Asparagus can be grown from both seeds and crowns. Crowns are one year old roots that can be planted for an earlier harvest. This can be especially helpful as it takes multiple seasons for asparagus to become established for a full harvest to be made. Harvesting too much too soon may lead to a weakened crop. True leaf market offers asparagus seeds and root crowns for spring planting. When selecting a growing space, look for an open area in full sun. Asparagus is a rhizome spreading crop. This means it will spread via its root system from season to season. As a perennial crop, it is important to select a growing location where the root system won’t be disturbed by tilling.
Growing Asparagus Crowns
Asparagus crowns are planted in the early spring. If your crowns arrive too early, refrigerate them until you are ready to plant. Start by digging a trench about 10-12 iniches deep. Then add a layer of compost about 3 inches deep inside the trench. This will help support healthy growth over the next couple of years while your crop becomes established. Next, replace some of the soil you had removed to form the trench. Create a ridge along the middle of the trench with this soil as a support to the crowns. Plant each crown about 18 inches apart. Spread the roots so they go down both sides of the ridge with the crown located at the top. You will want to keep the crown at soil-level. Cover the roots with 3 inches of soil and firm in. Finish off your planting by watering them in.
Steps to Growing Asparagus
- 1. Dig a 10-12 inch trench.
- 2. Add 3 inches of compost.
- 3. Replace soil removed from digging the trench.
- 4. Plant asparagus crowns or seedlings 18 inches apart with the crown at the top of the soil ridge at soil level.
- 5. Cover the roots with 3 inches of soil, firm in and water.
- 6. Stay on top of weed-removal.
- 7. Be patient. Collect a partial harvest in the second year, and a regular harvest in the third. Harvesting young spring to early summer shoots yields the best flavor and texture.
- 8. Allow the spears to develop foliage during the summer months. When the foliage starts to yellow and die back, cut back to soil-level.
Growing Asparagus Seeds
Asparagus seeds may be started indoors or outside. To start asparagus seeds indoors, sow about 8-10 weeks before your final spring frost date. Place 2-3 seeds about 0.5-1 inch deep. Transplant after about 10 weeks and the danger of frost has passed. To start seeds outdoors, select a growing location for your asparagus “nursery” with sandy soil. Sow seeds about an inch deep and 2-3 inches apart. Maintain a weed-free bed as competition can threaten young asparagus starts. Around October, cover your seedlings with 6 inches of straw. In the early spring before they start to grow shoots, dig up the crowns and transplant to their final growing location. Prepare your final growing location by digging a 6-12 inch trench. Spread a layer of compost at the bottom, then replace some of the soil that you removed to form the trench. Transplant your crowns or starts 18 inches apart.