Asparagus, how to grow it

Two asparagus shoots coming up from a ridge in a field.

Asparagus is a delicate-tasting vegetable and growing it means paying attention to a few things.

Simple asparagus facts

Name – Asparagus officinalis
Family – Asparagaceae
Type – vegetable, perennial

Height – 30 to 55 inches (80 to 140 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – light, well-drained

Harvest – In spring, when the shoots sprout from the ground

Planting asparagus

Asparagus tip with flower buds just starting to open up.Even though the different varieties are labeled “early” or “late”, asparagus are usually eaten in spring. Follow our advice to get a nice harvest and avoid disease.

There are 2 main types of asparagus:

  • white asparagus
  • and green asparagus.

You can grow both types in exactly the same manner.

During the months of February to April, it is important to plant asparagus in rows, preferably aligned with dominant winds.

Asparagus is demanding and it is necessary to fertilize the ground beforehand.

  • Sandy soil is better because it warms up faster.
  • Avoid wet soil.
  • Keep plants about 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 cm) apart and rows 5 feet (1.5 meters) apart.

Plant asparagus thanks to young root clumps grown from seeds, called “crowns”.

  • The first year, dig a trench 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) deep and place the crowns at the bottom of it.
  • Cover with an inch (a couple centimeters) of soil mix or finely broken good soil.
  • and then fill in with garden soil.

If you’re preparing seedlings, wait for a year before putting them in place.

Growing asparagus

Asparagus needs 2 years to grow since harvesting isn’t possible during the first year.

To speed things up, it is possible to purchase plants that are already 2 years old.

  • The first year, cover the crowns with about 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) of soil.
  • The second year, make sure soil covers crowns by about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm).

Once well settled-in, you’ll be able to harvest your asparagus for over 15 years.

As for watering, asparagus needs water on a regular basis but hates sitting water.

Harvesting asparagus

Asparagus must be harvested while still tender, and you cut it off with an asparagus knife.

The best time to harvest asparagus is from April to June. Harvest shoots with a long blade-tipped tool called an asparagus knife.

  • When the shoot points its tip out of the sand, this shows it is time to harvest the asparagus (If you missed it, better to let it grow into ferns).
  • Sink the blade deep into the soil to cut the shoot off as low as possible and have as much asparagus as you can.
  • Green asparagus don’t grow as deep, so a long kitchen knife is enough to harvest them.

Tip: It is best to wait a full 3 years before harvesting your asparagus, to let the plant develop during the first years of its life.

All there is to know about asparagus

Harvested asparagusThis vegetable has high vitamin C levels and nutrients, but actually, the delicate and subtle taste and soft flesh turn it into a delicacy.

Asparagus grown today were bred from an ancestor called medicinal Asparagus.

The taste of asparagus essentially depends on the type of soil and organic matter content.

Clay and loamy soils will give it a rather bitter taste.

Together with the green and white varieties, you’ll find a couple others, too:

  • Green asparagus – definitely the finer tasting one, it doesn’t need any peel removal.
  • White asparagus – rather common, it is thicker and can only be eaten after peeling.
  • Purple asparagus – a rare variety that is closer to the green asparagus.
  • Wild asparagus – thin and delicate, it is perfect in mixed salads.

To taste them at their best, eat them quickly after they’ve been cut.

Smart tip about asparagus

Add compost in fall to increase availability of nutrients.