Asparagus is an underrated hero in the vegetable world. It's a surprisingly versatile cooking ingredient. Plus, it is packed full of nutrients to give your body a healthy boost. But what you may not have considered is that instead of going to the store, your own garden could become a valuable source of asparagus production.
Growing asparagus at home has many benefits. While it takes around three years to get going, once your plant is up and running you can enjoy asparagus year after year. It's also a surprisingly beautiful plant, with longer, wispy stems that turn a stunning warm tone over the cooler months.
Most US climates (USDA zones 2-8) are suitable for growing this delicious and healthy vegetable, so if you follow the right instruction, you could be enjoying a steady source of asparagus soon.
1. Choose your location
If you choose to grow your plant from seed, you'll need to begin indoors. It's best to do this between February and May. You'll want a room with lots of natural light, between 70 and 85 degrees.
2. Soak and plant
It can be hugely beneficial to soak your seeds in water for a couple of hours before planting. You can then plant your seeds at 3 per 3.5-inch pot in sterile soil, covering the top with sand.
3. Pot placement
You should ensure your asparagus pots are all equipped with drainage holes. You can stand your pots in a tray or pan and water from below to avoid waterlogging. You may also want to consider a heating pad to keep your seedling warm.
4. Time to transplant
After three months of indoor growth, your seedlings should be ready to be moved outside. Check the weather that there is no risk of frost, then place your seedling outside at about 18 inches apart, and in rows that are 4 inches apart.
5. The waiting game
You should lightly cover your seedlings with soil, then water them a little once per week. Allow them to grow all summer, then trim back in fall. After three years of repeating this process, you can harvest your homegrown asparagus!
6. Consider crowns
If three years is too long for you to wait, you can purchase asparagus crowns ready for planting. Do some research to find the asparagus variety best suited to your location, and make sure your beds are ready.
7. Prep the beds
Choose well-draining soil with a neutral pH for your asparagus crowns. Dig 12-inch troughs in your beds, then create little cones of loose dirt at the bottom of each furrow, at least 18 inches apart. Each asparagus crown can be placed on top of these dirt cones, with the roots danging down into the trough.
8. Take care
Keep your asparagus crowns well-watered, and add soil around them as they grow. You should also weed the beds frequently. After two years of growth, your asparagus should be ready to eat.
9. Harvesting tips
You should only harvest for around four weeks in the first year but can go for longer in subsequent years. You'll know the shoots are ready to cut when they're 8 inches tall. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut.