Growing Asparagus: Tutorial for the Best DIY Planting, Caring, & Harvesting

Growing asparagus goes as an easy-to-grow vegetable that requires careful planting, caring and harvesting. This delicious, perennial vegetable comes back year after year and great for raised beds.

Find out the best DIY way for growing asparagus with this easy-to-follow guide. However, it requires extensive patience so you get to have a great harvest for years to come.

Growing Asparagus: Easy-to-Follow Tutorial

Man Doing the Proper Method of Cutting Locally-grown Asparagus after successfully growing asparagus

Image: CC by A-SA 2.0, Ketzirah Lesser & Art Draugler, via Flickr

If you feel tired of vegetables that need replanting every year, consider growing asparagus. This perennial is great if your garden is in a well-established location, as the plants can continue to grow for 20 or more years.

This guide will tell you how to grow asparagus, what you can do to increase your asparagus yield and identify some pests and diseases you need to watch out for.

With a little bit of patience, you’ll have plenty of asparaguses to feed yourself and your family.

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Why Consider Growing Asparagus?

Besides the great flavor, there are lots of reasons to love growing asparagus. If you’re in a cooler climate, it’s one of the few perennial vegetables that can survive harsh winters.

It’s also an early-harvest vegetable that has plenty of vitamin C and B. Whether you have a large garden or are just starting out, it’s a relatively easy vegetable to plant and maintain.

With a few easy tips, you can have asparagus in almost any climate. The most common varieties of asparagus plants are all-male, rather than monoecious, or male and female.

Male asparagus plants will grow larger and are easier to grow in greater quantities than the female plants. Newer varieties of asparagus are also very resistant to diseases and pests.

There are plenty of options to choose for growing asparagus, but we favor the Jersey Giant or Jersey Knight varieties.

However, asparagus is not for the impatient gardener. Whether you choose to use seeds or starters, it usually takes three years to begin harvesting your asparagus.

These plants aren’t for fair-weather gardening but are a great choice as a long-term garden plant that will continue to provide excellent vegetables for years.

Best Places for Growing Asparagus

Asparagus is a hardy vegetable crop that is resistant to diseases and frost. They are perennial, in nearly every climate. Only humid, wet areas of Florida struggle for growing asparagus.

Whether you have hot and dry summers, or freezing winters, with the right garden location, you’ll have asparagus growing faithfully year after year.

Look for a sunny spot to plant asparagus and consider using raised bedsAsparagus prefers slightly dry soil, so don’t pick a spot where water tends to pool.

Raised beds are not only easier to reach. But, it also provides some key benefits to growing asparagus, such as drier and deeper soil.

Best DIY Tips for Growing Asparagus Methods

Tilled Soil of Field with Locally-grown Asparagus for successful growing asparagus

Image: CC 0 by Public Domain, WikimediaImages, via Pixabay

There are a few simple steps to use when growing asparagus. Thankfully, it’s a very hardy plant, so don’t worry about the perfect location or amount of fertilizer.

While asparagus can be quite forgiving, it’s best to start early, and you can even begin preparing your soil in the fall. That way, you’ll be ready to plant as soon as the last frost in the spring is over.

For growing asparagus, use these three basic steps.

1. Preparing the Soil

  • Determine whether you are using raised beds or not. Having a raised bed will make it more convenient to prepare the soil for growing asparagus.
  • Since each row will need to be dug between six and eight inches deep, or deeper for more traditional, or heirloom, varieties of asparagus.
  • After you have chosen your spot, you’ll want to till the soil and add either compost or garden soil.
  • The ideal soil for growing asparagus has a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. You can cover your soil with mulch before winter begins, and it will be ready for planting in the spring.

2. Choosing Starters

  • Many gardeners choose to start with one-year-old asparagus starters through indoor potting
  • As long as you buy them fresh and plant them immediately, these crowns will give you a great harvest much more easily than using asparagus seeds.
  • Make sure your starters are firm, and the roots appear disease-free. While asparagus seeds usually come in a larger variety and may be less expensive, starters are easier to maintain.
  • Whether you are an experienced gardener or are just starting out for growing asparagus, you have the ultimate decision between seeds and starts.
Newly Planted Asparagus crop during the growing season after successful growing asparagus

Image: CC by A-SA 2.0, Philip Halling, via Wikipedia Commons

3. Planting Your Asparagus

  • Check your local frost averages, and make sure you know the last day of frost. This will vary wildly depending on your location and could be as early as March or as late as May for.
  • While growing asparagus stays dormant in the winter, you don’t want to expose them to immediate frost before they have taken root.
  • Also, check your particular variety of asparagus in order to find out how much space and depth they need.
  • Older varieties of asparagus need rows as deep as 12 inches, while more modern types only need six to eight inches.
  • Generally, growing asparagus requires about 12 to 18 inches between plants.
  • If you are using asparagus starters, make sure to plant them two inches deeper than the soil level they had in their planting pots.
  • After about two weeks, you may need to add more dirt as the soil settles.
  • Use mulch around each plant to prevent weed growth, which can stop your seeds from sprouting or keep your starters from taking root and thriving.

Best Caring Tips for Growing Asparagus

Asparagus field in Germany with Cultivated Soil for successful growing asparagus

Image: CC by 2.0, Lene, via Wikipedia Commons

As you watch your growing asparagus, there are a few things you need to do to keep them healthily. There are a wide variety of pests and diseases that ruin your asparagus crop.

Thankfully, most modern varieties are quite resilient. With some simple maintenance and care, you’ll give your plants the best chance at a strong harvest.

Weeds

  • First, you’ll want to use mulch to cover all the soil around the growing asparagus. This keeps weeds from competing with your asparagus for available resources.
  • Asparagus is very resistant to weather changes but can not compete with even a small number of weeds.
  • Keep your raised beds or garden areas free from weeds, and you’ll have a great asparagus crop.

Pests

  • There are a few bugs that love eating asparagus foliage, roots and stalks. Each of these pests can either lessen your harvest or ruin it completely.
  • The pests you’ll most likely encounter depends on your location, so it’s a good idea to research common problems in your climate area.
  • There are caterpillar-like cutworms that love eating new tips on young growing asparagus.
  • You’ll see spears curling, which is a sign of cutworm damage. If you don’t like using chemicals, the best defense is constant weed control.
  • Otherwise, there’s a whole host of pesticides that will take care of cutworms.
  • If you see bluish-black beetles that lay black eggs that are difficult to remove, you may have asparagus beetles.
  • These pests won’t ruin your entire crop but will leave scars and remove some of the foliage. This stunts your asparagus crop. 
  • It’s very difficult to remove growing asparagus beetle eggs from the plants, so consider using pesticides, as these beetles are very tough to get rid of naturally.
  • The best chance of a natural remedy is to catch the beetles before they begin laying eggs. Otherwise, look for all-natural insect repellants.

These are just a few of the beetles and bugs that can damage your asparagus crop.  Many new varieties of growing asparagus have built-in immunities and repellants, so you may never see these pests.

Diseases

  • Focus on the diseases if they have crown and spear rot, purple spot, fusarium wilt or one of the other common growing asparagus diseases. 
  • The fungi cause discoloration, scarring, and weak or wilted asparagus shoots.
  • While most asparagus is resistant to these common diseases, the damage can still pose a problem.
  • Draining your soil well is the biggest key to avoiding any growing asparagus diseases.
  • Most are caused by mold growth in the roots due to stagnant water.
  • Consider the usage of traveling and walking sprinklers.
  • If you do encounter any of these ailments, you’ll want to use a disease control substance.
  • Contact your local County Extension Agent.

Harvesting Your Asparagus

Commercial Asparagus Production Field in Oceana County, Michigan during the growing season after successful growing asparagus

Image: CC by A-SA 3.0, Morri362, via Wikipedia Commons

On the third year of faithful watering, mulching and providing adequate compost, your growing asparagus will finally be ready to harvest.

Cut asparagus that is around eight inches tall, either with sheers or simply snapping them off with your hands near the ground.  

You should avoid any asparagus that is too large or stalks that have opened and have foliage.

These will be very tough and won’t soften even with cooking. You may only have a few weeks of good harvesting at first.

Eventually, your asparagus season will grow to around eight weeks.  Be sure not to over harvest, otherwise, your next season won’t be as strong.

Once your asparagus spears are pencil-sized, you’ll want to stop harvesting and save them for next season.

Whether boiled, sautéed, canned or frozen, asparagus makes an excellent addition to most meals. Eat them whole or cut, but make sure you trim the large bases off.

Asparagus spears become more fibrous as they get larger and closer to the root.

Choosing the Best Options for Growing Asparagus

Newly Harvested Asparagus on a black table during the harvesting season after successfully growing asparagus

Image: CC 0 by Public Domain, Dorisworld, via Pixabay

If you have a well-maintained garden that is going to be around for years to come, consider growing asparagus.

Now that you know the best tips for growing asparagus, the hardest part is waiting.

With a few easy steps and three seasons of growth, you’ll have an excellent crop that will come back for 20 years or more.

It’s a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like planting annual vegetables. With the right steps, you’ll only have to plant these perennials once.

They are healthy, versatile vegetables that you can enjoy or share with neighbors.

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Featured Image: CC 0 by Public Domain, LeesportMarket, via Pixabay

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Lucy M. Clark
 

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

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