Asparagus used to be a cornerstone of my lazy perennial “produce food from my yard with little effort” crop. In zone 4 it is a suitable candidate for a cold climate yard. The key to getting some asparagus every year is getting some crowns and successfully planting them out until there is a nice little thriving patch of them.
With minimal care they are a nice producing crop and they don’t need to be planted out every year.
Some people get intimidated with asparagus though there is really no need to be. In order to get started it is best to buy some already grown crowns. I ordered some from a nursery and a while later I had some purple and green asparagus for my already prepared asparagus patch.
These are an amazing crop in the yard once installed. They are hardy to zones 3-8 which means just about anywhere you move to they will be able to grow. Every year they come back and send up these delicious shoots.
The general advice for asparagus in not to harvest stalks on the first year you plant them out. The goal the first year is to give the crowns time to really sink in and get their strength up. I went ahead and did that with mine and spent the next several years enjoying my asparagus harvests.
Asparagus Growing Tips
Asparagus is a pretty straightforward thing to get going. It tends to do well in zones 3-8 and you generally want to get the crowns planted by spring. In order to do spring planting you want to be sure you will get them delivered on time and that usually requires ordering ahead of time.
Their preferred soil is of neutral quality so they usually do well in a bed of fresh compost. I’ve always preferred my asparagus to be in raised beds and they grow rather tall so I placed them on the side of the garden where they would never shade anything or interfere with other crops.
The two varieties I chose for my own yard were Purple Passion and Jersey Giant as they were both rated as having rust resistance and good yields. Both varieties are rated for zone 2-9. Though there are some other varieties to test if you poke around different nursery listings.
When to Order Asparagus Crowns
Since the hysteria of the last couple of years it has been noticed that a lot of high demand for asparagus crowns means that suppliers often announce they are out rather quickly. Many years ago it usually wasn’t any old thing to order them up in winter like anything else though as it is now I recommend getting them when available. Many nurseries will send notifications when something is in stock and now I’m in the habit of ordering something as soon as it becomes available so I don’t miss out.
Nurseries will usually inform you of when to expect shipment and they normally will hold the order until you near your planting date. Generally any time around when they expect the last frost of the season to happen.
Asparagus prefers full sun and when installing new beds I like to get them all set and ready to go by fall where they will sit all winter and be ready to go by spring. This way the beds have time to do a little decomposition and I can give them a quick test to make sure things are optimal and pop my crowns into the beds.
The crowns need to go in very soon after they arrive as the longer rooted things sit around not planted the more they risk not doing well or drying out.
How to Plant Asparagus Crowns
One thing you will notice when planting asparagus is people recommend different things. It helps to usually follow the instructions the nursery sends to you because they generally give better insight.
With my asparagus though I tried to plant them 12″ apart, some instructions recommend 18″. I dug long trenches and filled them with fresh worm compost then planted out my crowns. You want to cover the crowns with a couple inches of soil and when they start growing up you want to tuck them in a bit more with more soil.
The area should be free of weeds and this is an installation of some permanence and they don’t care for companions.
You want to face the roots down and make sure the place where the spears will erupt are facing upwards.
How Asparagus Grows
After planting you should wait a little after a week and you should see these little asparagus spears shoot up from the soil beds.
In the first year of planting it isn’t uncommon for the spears to be very skinny. The advice in the first year is not to harvest and let the plants gain energy. By next spring it is possible to get a small harvest. Then by the third year the spears should be decently thick and give a good harvest.
Asparagus that is well established will predictably grow about 6-8ft tall every year.
Across the planting world demand has been unusually high for all kinds of plants, seeds, and trees. When it comes to anything you really want in your yard, whether it is asparagus or fruit trees or some rare seed, order when supplies are in as you have no guarantee it will be there any random time you want to order.
In terms of things like asparagus you can expect then to be shipped around the time they are ready for planting. An initial patch of asparagus will spread a bit over time and fill in empty space surrounding with more crowns. That is why the planting instructions will having their own ideas on what makes for good spacing.
Other than harvesting spears every year, my asparagus was usually what I would classify a “neglect” plant. It doesn’t need pruning or special care other than normal things. I wouldn’t fuss over it or trim it. Though if you see any dead bits on the plant it doesn’t hurt to cut those off.
Every year asparagus will return and all it asks for is a little mulch, compost, light water, and sun. Every fall the bed would be a blast of worm tea.
When I installed my asparagus beds I usually did them with the intention of not moving them or digging them up.
It should be noted that if need be it is possible to adjust or move crowns.
If you have a particular harvest amount you are aiming for then be sure to get adequate crowns as recommended by the nursery.