Planting asparagus for the first time

January 1, 2009

I love asparagus, and since it's so expensive to buy in the stores, I thought I'd bite the bullet and try growing it myself. Considering that even to buy plants is not cheap, and I want them to grow for a long time, I have a few questions. How rich a soil do they like, are they heavy feeders, and do they require full sun or can they tolerate some shade? I was looking through the Gurney's catalog and noticed that they have some what they call "Giant Grade" 3-year-old roots, but I'm wondering if by trying to get a quicker yield I would be sacrificing longevity?

Thanks and Happy New Year to all!


Comments (20)

  • bradmm

    I, too, am looking at planting asparagus for the time this year. I don't know if you would need different cultivars from me based on where you are located but I've determined that Jersey Giant will be what I plant. Since you're closer to Jersey than I am, maybe a good one for you, too. Sorry I can't answer your questions but I wanted to join in the discussion so I could learn as well.

    Happy New Year and Successful Gardening to all as well!


  • tedgrowsit

    Gardening friends,

    Asparagus is an early season delight in the garden. It does appreciate a deep, rich, well drained soil. When preparing your bed, add some organic matter to your soil such as shredded leaves, compost, grass clippings, etc. It is not a heavy feeder. A yearly addition of finished compost should satisfy. Three year old crowns will give you an edible crop sooner than one or two year old crowns. Last year I planted two year old crowns and expect to eat a little bit this spring.

    Give thought and care to choosing the place to plant. Asparagus will bear for as long as twenty years. Also, stay on top of the weeds. A perennial crop also tends to develop perennial weeds.

    Wishing you success,

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  • berry-nut

    Hi Edie
    We love asparagus too. We have planted several varieties here in sw wisconsin and all have done well, even in our heavy clay soils. If you buy the jumbo grade I doubt that you'll lose any longevity. Just remember you can't plant enough, you'll always want more. I'm planning on putting in another 100 crowns this spring. Just follow planting directions and you'll be fine. I do recommend about three inches of straw mulch applied the first winter and as needed each fall after that. Try Daisyfarms.net as a cheaper supplier

  • stephen_albert

    I have planted two-year-old crowns side by side with one-year-old crowns. (I was trying to discover just what you are asking about--Would I save time with the older crowns?) I found that at the end of the first growing season both patches looked just about the same and the yield was the same. The older crowns took the same amount of time as the younger ones to settle into their new home and get growing.

    If you want a double asparagus harvest each year--one in spring and another in autumn then plant twice as many crowns as you need. Once the bed is established, pick spears from half of the bed until early summer (as usual). Leave the other half of the bed unharvested. In midsummer when the plants in the unharvested half of the bed have leafed out, cut them down to soil level. These plants will then push new spears which you can harvest in late September and into October.

    Here is a link that might be useful: HarvestToTable.com

  • jungseed

    Full sun is best for asparagus, but yes they can tolerate some shade. They prefer a slightly acidic soil, pH of 6.2 to 6.8 would make them very happy. You can expect your bed to last 15 year or more. In zone 5 you will probably be able to harvest from about Memorial day to the 1st of July. Don't harvest after about July 1st. The ferns that develop after that will determine next years crop.
    If you would like any info on planting just let me know.

  • granite

    I agree with Stephen Albert that there is no gain from buying the 2-year or 3-year crowns; the 1-year crowns are less likely to break in planting and all of the crowns regardless of age take a year or more to establish themselves. You may do a light harvest of any spears thicker than a pencil after the crowns have been in place a full year (ie year 2 of your asparagus bed) for 4 weeks of harvest. After 4 weeks of harvest allow all of the spears to fern out and provide energy to the roots for the rest of the growing season. Do not cut off the tops until winter when they are fully brown and dried. In each following year you have 8-10 weeks of harvest time.

  • laceyvail 6A, WV

    I think the most important thing to consider about asparagus is that the newer varieties like the Jersey series are all male, thus no unwanted seedlings crowding the beds and much less weeding to do. Also, I don't think Gurneys is a very good nursery anymore, and I wouldn't order anything from them, much less a plant that you want to give three years before full harvest. You won't gain anything from a three year old plant, and good nurseries don't even sell them.

    As far as beginning harvest in spring, my first spears push through in mid April, and I finish up 6 weeks later, just about when the first strawberries begin. So I'm done by early June.

  • ediej1209

    Thank you all for the advice. Based on what I've read here, I think I will plant younger ones and just try to practice patience! I really do appreciate your help. Happy New Gardening Year!!!

  • brokenbar

    I have a mature bed of 400 crowns. I started with a trench dug three feet deep and added dirt/compost to it as the crowns sprouted and grew upward. Now that the bed is mature, I add three feet of very well composted horse manure mixed with shavings from cleaning stalls (my piles are 5 to 10 years old so they are very well composted and have been turned with the tractor bucket numerous times)

    I have a weep hose buried 6 inches. I had to devise a marker system for my hose because I kept nicking it cutting spears. I cut metal close hangers into 6 inch pieces and spray painted one end orange and then placed them, orange end up along the length of the buried hose. If this seems like a lot of bother, there is a reason. As the water goes down and not up, I get almost no germination of any weed seeds. I can also run my rototiller at a depth of 2" along the rows, keeping the soil loose for emerging heads (once it comes in heavy you can't do this.) They sell asparagus knives but I am a miser so I bought a long, serrated knife at the thrift store for a quarter. My hubby cut a notch in the pointy end. I stick the blade down into the dirt about 12 inches and cut the stalks off. I check my bed twice a day for any "barely poking their heads up" stalks. The minute Asparagus starts to turn green it also starts to turn tough. I am picking blanched stalks that are totally edible. I have had this bed in about 7 years and I get some stalks that are nearly two inches around and never tough.

  • skagit_goat_man_

    I have two asparagus beds, 1000 crowns that are 10 yrs old and a new bed of 100. I like the Jersey series and can't see any reason to buy the plants from anywhere but Jersey Asparagus. Check out their web site and you'll get all the info you need for growing great 'gus. Tom

  • east459

    hi all,
    i'm taking the leap and planting asparagus this year. i'm the only one that eats it so i got only ten crowns of jersey knight hybrid and one that is called Sweet purple. i guess what i want to know is are they as good as Henry Field's say they and do they product well?

  • citysoil

    I'm pondering dedicating one of my 4-foot by 8-foot beds to asaparagus. I'll make the bed extra high: 18 inches. (We have dense clay soil, so all of our veggies are in raised beds.)

    My question: how many crowns can I squeeze in?

    At one foot apart, I can get 8 crowns in each row.

    Two rows puts them 2 feet apart. Three rows puts them 16 inches apart.

    I'm in the Deep South, Zone 8b.

    Your thoughts?

    Here is a link that might be useful: My blog

  • missemerald

    I'm so glad that someone asked about asparagus, since this is also our first year in planting it! I was going to order from Gurneys, and believe it or not, found "Jersey Giants" on sale at a rural Walmart today, so I bought them. Unfortunately, we don't have a huge yard, just a huge appetite for 'gus. So, I want to know a few things: I get that you plant in sandy, loamy, well drained soil. Sunny too, I presume? But how far apart and how deep for each crown? And, when is planting time for 'gus? I may have bought it too early for my area (Northern VA), but I was just too durned excited when I found it. I'm debating two places in the yard for it-- on the side of the deck near the A/C (sunny, but partial shade in the afternoon), and along the garage (where I planted potatoes last year, full sun but gets very wet from the nearby gutter run off). Any suggestions here? Also, can I plant something else with it, for a later harvest (a different crop or something) or is an asparagus bed simply/best for asparagus and nothing else? Thanks so much!

    p.s. The package that I bought was labeled 2 year old crowns and there are 10 in it... I have no idea how many that will yield. Any ideas?


  • Beeone

    When planting your crowns, lay a very healthy dose of phosphate fertilizer down with the roots. Make sure it doesn't have nitrogen with it as the nitrogen can burn the roots. Phosphate doesn't tend to move readily in the soil, so putting down a good dose of phosphate with the roots will place it where the plants can get it and keep them happy for years.

    10 plants is a nice introduction to growing and will provide meals for a couple people. After a couple years experience with how they produce for you, you can plant more if you want it more often or want to freeze some for other seasons. Plant your asparagus as early as the ground can be worked. If you have to wait for a while after getting the crowns, they can be kept in the refridgerator if kept slightly moist, just don't store with other fruit in the same fridge or they may grow after planting.

    Plant by digging a trench about 16-18 inches deep, then make a hill down the center about 6 inches high. Lay the crowns on the hill with the roots going down to the bottom of the trench, then fill. Don't harvest any the first year, enjoy some the second year but not for too long, then pick 4-6 weeks or so after the second year. When spears come up pencil thickness or smaller, it is time to quit picking. Older plants (2 or 3 year) will cost you more but won't get you a bigger or faster producing stand.

    It is generally not a good idea to try intercropping other veggies with your asparagus. After you finish picking in the spring, the ferns will grow quite tall and densely shade the ground and your intercropped plants will get shaded out.

    I have found that the Jersey varieties are better producers than the wild varieties around here, plus they have less fiber and a milder flavor. I don't care for the milder flavor part, but the other qualities are great!

  • eplina

    its does take time so l would imagine you need some patience but its all worth it as it can live for 10 to 15 years.

    Here is a link that might be useful: How to Grow Asparagus

  • obrionusa

    I put on order in about a month ago for 100 jersey supreme from Nourse farms. I sure dont need it all and was wondering if anywone would care to trade a few purple passion for some of my supreme? Im an Indiana hoosier and expect the shipment around mid april.

  • tessmick

    I'm an asparagus newbie, too.

    I planted my 25 crowns of one-year Jersey Supreme on 4/24/09 ~ I had myself prepared that it would take a few years to actually produce asparagus. So, what do I do now with the very tall things growing there? They sort of look like asparagus, but none of them are more than 1/8th inch in diameter, they have very frilly plumes (kind of like ferns), and there are what appear to be seeds on them.

    Help please!
    Tess, Redford, Michigan

  • ropericu

    I've found a very nice description about growing asparagus in your home garden! link below...

    Here is a link that might be useful: asparagus growing

  • ediej1209

    Thanks for the great link! Due to things beyond my control, the asparagus didn't happen this year, but next year, for sure. We are making one end of the garden a "permanent" planting area and should be done getting it all together this fall.

    Thanks again for everyone's help!

  • farming4christ

    If you love asparagus like my family then i recommend bitting the bullet and plant twice as much as you are thinking. You only need to buy one year old crowns and be very patient. If you try and rush the production then you will only end up losing alot of your crop. It will be worth the effort to wait and let the root system get well established. You should also really consider growing one of the newer hybrids out there like Jersey King, Jersey knight, and Jersey Giant.

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