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Planting An Asparagus Bed

June 20th, 2011

Adding a large asparagus bed has been in my garden plan for quite a while. I have spent the last 3 years improving the soil in one large area of the garden preparing it for asparagus. Since asparagus a long-lived perennial vegetable, you want to make sure the soil is healthy. I remember those huge asparagus beds at Monticello, they were amazing!

If you like asparagus, growing it in your home garden makes sense. Asparagus is much tastier when cooked immediately after harvesting (in fact it’s quite good when eating right in the garden). Taking the time to install an asparagus bed now will reward you years of fresh harvests. Asparagus does not enjoy having wet feet, so a well-drained bed is essential or you may end up losing your crowns to rot. If you have heavier soil you can now purchase varieties like ‘Jersey Night’ and ‘Millennium’ that have been bred to do better in those conditions.

Each crown of asparagus is supposed to produce about a half a pound of spears during the 4-6 week spring season. I’m guessing that this is under optimal conditions and most likely with synthetic fertilizers. In my organic garden with less than ideal soil, I’m guessing I’ll get about a quarter pound per crown once they’re established. Mr Chiots and I love asparagus, so eating this much will not be a problem for us. I’m actually hoping to have extra so I can pickle some to enjoy throughout the year.

I planted 25 crowns each of ‘Purple Passion’ and ‘Jersey Supreme’ two weeks ago. I have a few ‘Mary Washington’ asparagus crowns in a raised bed in the back. I planted them 3 years ago and have been harvesting a few spears from them. They don’t get full sun, so they aren’t as productive as they would in in another area of the garden. These plants will be moved to the new asparagus bed up front soon. I’ll also be seeding some ‘Precoce D’Argenteuil’ Asparagus as well (source Baker Creek).

Planting asparagus is fairly easy, although if you search for information on how to do it on-line you’ll come up with conflicting information. After reading a few different ways of doing it, I decided to plant mine a little more shallow than is recommended. I found some information from Ohio State University that said plants were more productive and lasted longer if not planted as deeply. The location of my asparagus bed also has fairly heavy clay soil beneath the soil I amended. I wanted the crowns to be above the level of clay so I planted them about four inches below the soil level. The purple asparagus is planted 6-8 inches apart and the Jersey is planted 12-18 inches apart.

I added some bone meal at planting time to help with root development and I mulched well with shredded fall leaves. After about 5 days most of the crowns were putting up thin spears. It looks like every single crown has sprouted.  Fertilize your asparagus patch with a well balanced fertilizer in spring before spears emerge and with a higher nitrogen fertilizer in summer after harvest.  I like to use a mix of kelp meal and fish meal in spring and well rotted chicken manure in summer/fall.

Next year I’ll be able to harvest a few spears from this new bed. Some places will tell you not to harvest any, but I have read that harvesting a few spears will help stimulate the crowns to produce more buds thus making the plants more productive in future years. The second year I’ll be able to harvest a few more spears over the course of a 4-6 week period. My real reward will come in 2014 and beyond when I will have asparagus on my table for about 6-8 weeks each spring.

I’ve been trying to add more perennial edibles to my gardens to lessen soil disruption and asparagus is one step in that plan. Read my post at Your Day on Ethel about my plans for even more perennial edibles in the garden.

Do you grow asparagus in your garden?

26 Comments to “Planting An Asparagus Bed”
  1. Mich on June 20, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Yes I planted up a small asparagus bed a couple of years ago. I should of planted a much bigger bed; but at the time hadnt extended the veg plot & didnt have any plans to do that! How plans change. lol…
    I harvested a few spears of purple & green asparagus this spring :) def worth the wait.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  2. Melissa on June 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Wow- that huge asparagus bed is amazing! I’d love to have room for one of those! My 4×8 bed is doing well- it’s on its second year so we should have some next year- I started from seed but it’s doing quite well!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on June 20, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Yes. And this year I discovered an added benefit to the asparagus–Cubby loves it. Raw. So when I was working out there, I would just snap off a spear for him and he’d run around chewing on it while I worked. Awesome.
    kristin @ going country´s last post ..It Begins

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  4. goatpod2 on June 20, 2011 at 8:28 am

    We have some asparagus by our garden.

    Amy

    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  5. Denimflyz on June 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I started asparagus in some large containers to see if it would work, doing the same as a bed, enriching the soil with worm castings and compost and trenching. This is the first year but the ferns are up and looks good. I have very limited space, so I am anxious to see if I get spears next year.
    I am also going to start a container of the Jersey Giant or Jersey Knight, and some purple and see how that goes.
    Denimflyz´s last post ..Garden photos posted

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  6. Allison on June 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

    WOW! That first picture with the huge asparagus bed is beautiful — dreamy!

    We planted one crown a few years back but it wasn’t a good location, so now, like you we are working on a new bed for new plants to go into.
    Allison´s last post ..Harvest Monday- June 20- 2011

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  7. MAYBELLINE on June 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Never have. Wonder if it can take the heat.
    MAYBELLINE´s last post ..I Don’t Know Nothin’ ’Bout Lemon Verbena

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    • Seren Dippity on June 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      oh yeah. I planted 20 crowns in 2009 and 18 survived the first year. It is important to keep them well watered during the hottest of days but with that they are doing great in our 100+ F summers.

      Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

      • Seren Dippity on June 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

        Sorry, I meant to put a location to my post! I grow them in Dallas, Texas. It gets REAL hot here.

        to Seren Dippity's comment

  8. SixBalloons on June 20, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I love asparagus and hope to plant a small bed one day. Thank you for all the growing hints, I am glad to have a few second opinions on some of the common instructions!
    SixBalloons´s last post ..Dru Holland Cast Iron Oval Au Gratin 36

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  9. Gabe on June 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I also put in a bed earlier this spring, with 25 crowns of the ‘Jersey Supreme.’ I have some huge ferns, so I hope that’s indicative of healthy plants, and good future production!

    I’m thinking about planting some rhubarb as another edible perennial – anybody have experience with that?
    Gabe´s last post ..Weekend update

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    • Susy on June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

      I have a few rhubarb plants, this year I’m adding 3 more. They seem to do well if you make sure to plant them in a well drained area as they can get root rot if they’re too wet. If you like the taste of rhubarb they’re worth adding to the garden for sure. They look very nice in a mixed perennial border with their huge leaves!

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Cynthia Ferguson on May 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Rhubarb is so easy. I have too much, I put a compost bin over it hoping to smother it out, it is growing very well through the compost.

      Reply to Cynthia Ferguson's comment

  10. Tee on June 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    This was the single best -all in one place- thing for information on starting an asparagus bed. Thank you.
    My grandmother has always said if you plant asparagus you will never go hungry…doubtful that is true,lol…but I have wanted one .
    Never know quite where to put it.
    Those Monticello beds are out of this world and have really inspired me.
    Thanks,
    Tee

    Reply to Tee's comment

  11. ChristyACB on June 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Awesome photo of that bed of asparagus. Oh to have such a bounty nearby!

    Since I live in a house I’ll have to sell before moving to the country when I leave the military, I’ve not been able to plant anything like that. I very much look forward to it.

    I’ve been considering using some of the local stone not suitable for the house to build a permanent slightly raised bed in order to help with drainage. It would be great if that worked…much less work!
    ChristyACB´s last post ..Peachy!

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  12. Misti on June 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    That looks beautiful and awesome! I will keep asparagus in mind for our next garden…someday. And those morels…mmm!
    Misti´s last post ..Critters and Canoes

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  13. KimH on June 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    About 16 years ago I planted a huge bed like the one of Montecello in my garden at the house I planned to live in for the rest of my life.. Little did I know, 2 or 3 years later, I’d leave it forever… sigh.. I always wonder if its still growing strong as the occasional bunch grows along the North Texas fence-rows. Which incidentally is how I came to love fresh asparagus. I was taking pictures and came across a beautiful ferny looking weed with tiny little flowers & started asking old-timers if they knew what it was. Course they got a great laugh out of my wild weed being asparagus, obviously left over from an old farmstead or seeds left by birds.. and I fell in love.. ♥

    I have a small asparagus bed here.. space is super duper limited but I have about 8 crows that are really large and this year put on spears that were 3/4″-1″ in diameter. I harvested them heavily…They were just too big but man were they sweet this year.

    I also planted 20 Jersey Knight crowns near the others this year.. They’re squished between my deck and a chain link fence and in mostly sun and seem to be really happy campers. The new ferns are about waist height so far.. The older ones are probably 6 feet..
    I’ve got wild grape vines growing along the fence which is a beautiful backdrop for the ferny asparagus and is pretty as a picture..

    BTW… I have never planted my asparagus as deep as “they” say it should be.. Not sure why.. but its always worked for me. ;)

    Wishing you all the abundance you can stand! ☺

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  14. Rooted in Atascocita on June 21, 2011 at 12:37 am

    You have beautiful pictures! Love this site!
    Rooted in Atascocita´s last post ..My husband- the writer…

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  15. alison@thisbloominglife on June 21, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Oooooh. I’m so jealous. Asparagus is the main reason I have decided to make my vegetable patch so big. I can hardly wait to get it all ready for planting (just need to fence, improve the soil, green manure, build the beds) hopefully not too much more waiting!
    alison@thisbloominglife´s last post ..More dreams…

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    • Susy on June 21, 2011 at 8:03 am

      It is a LONG wait isn’t it. I’ve been working on the soil in the asparagus bed for 3 years. Now I have to wait 3 more until I can harvest it in full. It will be well worth the wait!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Mark Willis on June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Yes, I also grow Asparagus! Posting about it on my blog today, because this is the day (Midsummer’s Day) that you are supposed to stop harvesting it for the year – if you like in the UK, that is.
    I only have 9 plants. There were 10, but one died. However, it’s still worth growing, because the taste of freshly-picked Asparagus from your own garden is so much better than anything you can buy in a shop.
    Mark Willis´s last post ..The end of the Asparagus season

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  17. Andrés on June 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I am planning on starting an asparagus bed this coming spring, we have been playing with the idea, but never had the space, but we’ll be moving this summer, and will finally have a yard, so I am excited to try to grow some perennial vegetables such as asparagus. I am planning on going with the Jersey Knight variety, as we have heavy clay down here in Georgia.
    Andrés´s last post ..Frenching Green Beans

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  18. Seren Dippity on June 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I wish I had know how tall they got when I started my Asparagus bed. All the research I did and I couldn’t find a photo of a mature plant anywhere. I also didn’t realize that they have a tendency to lean. I placed my bed too close to a sidewalk and now have to tie them back or they block the path.

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

  19. Mija on June 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Does anyone know if the deer eat asparagus – as a general rule – I know nothing is ever completely off limits! :-)

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply to Mija's comment

    • Susy on June 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

      I do not have any trouble with deer eating the asparagus in my gardens. They’ll eat a lot of other things though. They LOVE my hydrangeas & blueberries. I can’t confirm however that they’re deer proof, sometimes deer eat different things in different areas. Your best bet is to see if you can find a local or search on Google. I’m guessing the don’t though.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Maybelline on April 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I experimented this year and only planted 3 crowns in a raised bed (full sun) to help fight root knot nematodes. 2 of the 3 crowns sprouted and are thriving. The only problem I have is photographing the tiny, thin spears.
    Maybelline´s last post ..Marvelous!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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