Learn “How to Grow Asparagus at Home” and you’ll never have to pay premium prices for asparagus at the store again!
Growing your own asparagus takes time and patience, but man, it’s worth it! A well-tended asparagus patch can produce this nutrient-packed vegetable, year after year, for up to 30 years!
Why Grow Asparagus?
Perennials are an important part of being self-sufficient. When you grow your own food, perennials give you food security each and every year. Once planted, perennials continue to come back year after year, with proper care!
You might be surprised to know that there was a time when I wouldn’t eat asparagus. But let me tell you this, even if I didn’t like asparagus, I would still grow it. Why? Because it is a great asset to barter with! As a homesteader, your ability to barter goods and services just might be critical at some point. Plus, it’s a good way to build and promote a homestead community.
Growing Asparagus at Home: Location
Choosing where to plant your asparagus is paramount to its survival. Asparagus needs a sunny, well-drained spot in your garden. Asparagus is a heavy feeder and requires good, fertile soil! If your soil isn’t up to par, amend it prior to planting!
Asparagus also likes soil with a pH value of 6.5 to 7.0, which you should test not only before planting but periodically thereafter. Use aged compost, manure and possibly peat moss to loosen and fertilize your soil. Your local extension office will be able to provide further information about the soil in your area. (search “extension office locator” for your state).
Remember, asparagus is a heavy feeder, meaning that it needs a steady supply of nutrients to grow.
Fertilize your young asparagus in the Spring with an organic 5-10-10 formula. You will do this for the first 2 years from when you planted the crowns (unless you purchased older crowns). You will be able to harvest your asparagus in the 3rd year (more about that later) but do not fertilize in the third year until after harvesting.
Buying Your Crowns
Don’t torment yourself by trying to start asparagus from seed if you want to grow asparagus at home.
Planting Asparagus at Home
Before planting, you will need to dig your trenches. This is my least favorite part, and it’s a lot of hard work to grow asparagus, but the good news is that you only have to do it once!
Dig trenches that are 12 inches deep, and at least 4 feet apart. The crowns need to be planted 12-18″ apart.
Your plants need to be propped up on a 3″ mound of dirt/compost, with the roots spread out. Position the plant with the bud facing upwards.
Then cover your crown with about 4″ of soil, covering it completely. Do not press the soil down, we want the asparagus to grow upwards easily. Water well. Keep well weeded, asparagus doesn’t like to compete with weeds for nutrients.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Asparagus?
As the roots begin to grow above the surface of the soil, you will want to bury them again….and again, every time they emerge, until you reach the top of your trench.
You will only do this for the first year, as the asparagus roots are getting established. Having most of the growing season ahead of you when you plant asparagus roots will ensure that this process is complete before the first frost.
The second year will produce thin and spindly shoots, and I don’t recommend that you eat them. Rather, let them grow and allow the root system to develop. It’ll pay off! You should be able to eat from your crop in the third year!
However, the fastest way to get asparagus on your dinner plate is to purchase three-year-old crowns and plant them!
Companion Planting with Asparagus
By taking advantage of the mutual benefits of companion planting, you’ll have more productive plants and more food!
Personally, I interplant strawberries with my asparagus. After planting two different plots of strawberries, one with and one without asparagus, the difference was astounding! I not only had more strawberries than the other patch, but larger and better tasting!
I also use marigolds in and around the perimeter of my garden, to attract ladybugs, which takes care of most of my garden pest issues.
Rhubarb is another companion plant that I have right next to my asparagus patch. Spinach, beets and lettuce are also excellent companion plants for your asparagus.
Growing Asparagus: Pruning
Pruning is a very important part of growing asparagus. During the first and second years of growth, you should let the asparagus grow until after the first frost or so. After the growth turns yellow or brown, go ahead and trim it back to ground level, and mulch heavily for the winter.
After the third year, you will be able to harvest from late April until the end of June, while the spears are 5-9″. However, when the spear begins to get spindly, stop harvesting. This can weaken the root system for future years.
One plant can bear 8-10 spears. To harvest, you can just bend the spear to the ground, but I prefer to cut them with a sharp garden knife at an angle.
Once you’ve harvested your asparagus, you can bring it to the kitchen, rinse well, pat it dry and store it in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.
Taking the time to invest in cultivating an asparagus bed is not only well worth the time, but it will pay you dividends for many years to come!