I had the impression that I had written a post about planting green asparagus plants last year, when we planted our first asparagus. I tried to find it today, but I couldn’t. It was in the middle of the growing season, so I had probably forgotten it. The nice thing about gardening is, that you can make up for mistakes the year after. So here is a long overdue post about planting green asparagus plants.
It’s actually right on time, as March is an ideal time to plant out asparagus plants. We planted them out last year somewhere in April and that worked well as well. Ideally you should aim for March and the first half of April. If you are starting asparagus from seeds, you can also sow them in March (indoors). You will have to wait a year before you can plant them out in their official planting bed. We thought sowing was a bit of a hassle (and we didn’t have a lot of time) and without giving it a lot of thought, we bought about twenty plants last year in a local garden centre. So this guide will be focused on nursery-bought asparagus plants.
Green asparagus and white asparagus both have different soil needs. White asparagus (as they grow underground to stay white) need soft draining soil. Green asparagus on the other hand, do very well on a heavy rich soil. We chose green asparagus, as our soil is pretty heavy (and the nursery only sold green asparagus). Next to the type of soil, you should also choose a sunny place in your garden as asparagus love the sun. They also love a bit of moist, don’t let them dry out. You can mulch the bed to prevent dryness.
And most importantly, it should be a place that can remain the asparagus bed for fifteen or twenty years. Yep, these are perennials. So although it’s a lot of work to plant the first time, you will be able to enjoy them for a very long time. Very much worth the work. We decided to place it next to our greenhouse.
Officially you should plant asparagus plants 30cm apart and if you are planting more rows, the rows should be 1,5m apart. Well now that’s beautiful if you have tons of land, but if you don’t have tons of land, you can place them closer to each other. As we did. When you know how many plants you have and how far apart you will plant them, you can start digging out a hole. The hole should be about 25cm deep.
As you don’t want to dig out the asparagus after you have planted them (it’s a hell of a job), you need to feed the soil properly before you close them off. Time to add a good bag of compost on the bottom of the trench.
Now you can start working with the asparagus plants. Ideally you should place the asparagus on little mountains on which they stand with their core. With their roots falling down the little mountains. You can make the mountains all at once before planting or you can make them one by one, placing the asparagus on them one by one. I chose for the last approach as that was more doable.
After you have placed the asparagus on their little mountains, with the asparagus on top, you can carefully close off the ditch with the soil that you took away when you started digging (minus all the weeds). Never stand on this bed again! Mark it clearly.
Depending on how old your asparagus plants are you might be able to harvest a few asparagus in the first year you have planted them. Ideally you should not harvest any asparagus in their first year. When they are two years old you only harvest a few asparagus per plant and only until the first half of May. In the third year you can harvest until the beginning of June, and from the fourth year on you can harvest until the end of June. The period after is used to regenerate the plant.
You can harvest green asparagus when they are the right size to harvest. You choose the size you want to harvest. Don’t let them grow too tall, they will either go in bloom or will be too tough. Harvest with a sharp slightly tilted knife, right under the surface (don’t go too deep).
If you are wondering how many plants you need. These twenty plants are more than enough for the two of us. Generally it’s advised to plant about 24 plants for a family of four.
The asparagus that you don’t harvest will grow into long beautiful stems that will change color with the seasons. In november or december you can remove the stems that are dying out and clear the plot from any remaining weeds.
It’s important to keep removing small weeds on that bed during the year, as you can’t dig over the bed at the beginning of the growing season. What you can do at the beginning of the season, is placing some new topsoil or fine compost with a bit of manure on top of the bed. That will give the asparagus kickstart.
As said, it’s quite a bit of work to start with, but you will be happy to see new asparagus pop up in the new year, as one of the first crops in your garden. Year after year.