Planting an Asparagus Bed: Everything You Need to Know

Planting an Asparagus Bed
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Last Updated on 1 year by Michelle

We love asparagus in our house, and I’ve always thought of planting an asparagus bed. I’ve heard from many people that planting an asparagus bed gives them fresh, homegrown asparagus that tastes amazing.

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that tastes so much better when it’s homegrown.

In this post, I’ll show you exactly how we planted an asparagus bed.

General Types of Asparagus

There are 3 main kinds of asparagus: green asparagus, purple asparagus, and white asparagus.

Purple asparagus is said to be slightly sweeter than green asparagus, less fibrous, and easier to eat raw.

White asparagus is made white by hilling up soil around the asparagus spears as they grow so that the spears are blanched. The lack of light turns the spears white.

Growing Asparagus Saves A lot of Money

If you love asparagus, growing your own is a no-brainer economically. A pound of fresh asparagus costs $6-8 in the grocery store.

The 100 crowns I planted in our garden will produce 50 pounds of asparagus every year for a one-time cost of $87, plus about $25-30 in fertilizer cost per year.

That means I’m getting about $350+ in fresh asparagus every year for the cost of fertilizer. You can’t beat that with a stick.

In this post, I’ll show you exactly how we planted those crowns to build an asparagus bed.

Planting Asparagus Crowns

If you’re thinking about planting your asparagus bed, there are a few things you need to know before you plant asparagus crowns. The first is what variety of asparagus to plant.

Step 1: Choose Asparagus Variety

I chose the Jersey Supreme (or Jersey Giant) variety because it’s known for its high yield and disease resistance. You’ll have to decide for yourself what you’d like to grow, but I went with popular and easy for my first attempt at growing asparagus.

Step 2: Amending the Soil

When you’re ready to plant, the first step is to prep the soil. Asparagus prefers a rich, sandy loam high in organic matter, but you can also grow in clay soil successfully, as long as you don’t miss this critical step of adding organic matter.

You can create your bed or amend an existing garden bed with compost or aged manure. The soil should be worked down to at least 12 inches. (Read more about amending your soil here). 

Step 3: Prepping the Garden Bed

After you add the organic matter, you’ll need to add fertilizer. In addition to compost, we added decomposed leaf mulch and Espoma Biotone Starter Plus organic fertilizer.

Asparagus Bed Trenches that Will Hold Asparagus Bed
Asparagus Bed Trenches that Will Hold Asparagus Bed

Step 4: Planting the Crowns

When you’re ready to plant your asparagus crowns, the first step is to dig a trench in your prepared bed. The trench should be at least 12 inches deep and 18-24 inches wide. 

How to Plant An Asparagus Bed

Then place the asparagus crowns in the trench, spacing them about 18 inches apart. We planted our asparagus bed on April 5 2021 here in our Zone 7b/8a garden in western NC.

Step 4: Fertilizing the Crowns

Once you’ve planted your new asparagus crowns, it’s essential to keep them well-fertilized. For the first year, I recommend using a balanced organic fertilizer such as Espoma Garden tone. You can also side-dress them with aged manure that you may have on hand, or pelletized chicken manure like Coop Poop every few weeks during the growing season.

Asparagus Spears Are Up About One Week After Planting
Asparagus Spears Are Up About One Week After Planting

Step 6: Ongoing Care & Harvest Schedule

Weed Bed Regularly

To ensure a good harvest, you’ll need to control the weeds in your asparagus bed. I used a regular hoe to keep weeds at bay.

The asparagus plants don’t like to fight weeds for access to water, sun, and nutrients. The better you can tend to the plants’ needs the first full year, the better they will do in future years.

When fertilizing your asparagus bed, you can wait to fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer until after your harvest. As long as you’re happy with the spears and the plants appear healthy, you don’t have to fertilize in the spring. By waiting until after, you’ll cut down on the number of weeds in your bed because the weeds won’t get fertilized in the spring.

Fertilizer Schedule

After your asparagus plants are up and growing, you’ll fertilize regularly in two main ways:

  1. After harvest or in late spring/early summer, top dress with an all-purpose organic fertilizer like Espoma Garden Tone (what you used when you planted the crowns).
  2. Later in the fall, after the ferns have died and you’ve cut them back for the winter, top dress with Rock Phosphate. Asparagus loves phosphorus, so giving it this extra boost in the fall will provide the rock phosphate plenty of time to break down into the soil so that it is more bioavailable when the plants need it.

Planting An Asparagus Bed Means Playing the Long Game, But It's Worth It

We planted 1-year crowns, meaning they were one year old when we planted them. We saw sprouts above ground a week after planting, and we let them all grow (no harvesting allowed until the NEXT year).

The plants grew all spring, summer, and fall of 2021. We JUST cut them back last week (12/5/2021). You want your asparagus plants to grow as vigorously as possible all year long so that the bed is well-established. An asparagus bed can last over 20 years if taken care of properly.

Harvest Can Begin in the 3rd Year of Growth

In the 3rd year of growth, you can begin to harvest around 1/3 of the spears for about six weeks of its growing season. Harvest asparagus by cutting off the spear at or just below ground level with a sharp knife once it has grown between 6-7 inches tall and is the diameter of a pencil.

Planting an Asparagus Bed: Harvesting Asparagus Spears by Hand with a Knife

You don’t want to harvest more than 1/3 of the available spears the first year because you’ll stunt the growth of your bed that way.

Technically, 2021 was our bed’s 1st season, but it was year 2 for the crowns. That means that this coming season, 2022, is year 3.

I am looking forward to harvesting 1/3 of these delicious spears in just a few months!

Common Asparagus Pests or Disease

Asparagus can be susceptible to a few pests and diseases, but most are easy to control if caught early. The most common pests are the asparagus beetles, which can skeletonize the leaves of the plants. You can control them with organic pesticides or hand-picking.

Another common problem is asparagus rust, which can be treated with organic fungicides. Be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of disease and treat them immediately to prevent further damage.

Growing Asparagus from Seed

As I mentioned earlier, you can also grow asparagus from seed.

The plants will take an additional year to get big enough for you to harvest, but they are much cheaper if you start them from seed.

You can grow 50 plants with a $4.50 packet of asparagus seeds versus around $50 for the same number of crowns. That’s a massive price difference.

I planted a few asparagus seedlings into the bed of crowns in 2021, and I plan to grow another full tray of seedlings of 50 plants into the bed in 2023.

If you want to have the best of both worlds (access to asparagus faster AND in a more cost-effective way), consider doing what I did. You’ll buy crowns and grow seedlings.

I’m in zone 7B/8A, and I started seeds indoors in early January and transplanted the seedlings around the edges of the asparagus bed when I planted it in April. I plant asparagus seedlings around the edge of the bed because I didn’t want to crowd what I’d already planted.

The seedlings were much smaller than the crowns we planted since they are a year behind the crowns in age, but they will yield some tasty spears just the same.

Check out Baker Creek for asparagus seed availability, like this Conover Colossal variety.

Asparagus is easy to grow from seed, so don’t worry if you can’t find crowns to plant. Your patience will be greatly rewarded!

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not too difficult to plant an asparagus bed either from crowns or from seeds, and the results are well worth it. I’m looking forward to harvesting pounds and pounds of delicious spears for many years to come

Late 2022 Update on Asparagus Plants

I’m updating this post at the end of 2022, and in the spring of 2023, I’ll be able to harvest all the asparagus spears I want for my family. Check back here where I’ll share pictures of the harvest!

The "How Much Asparagus To Plant" Calculator

I looked all over the internet for this kind of tool, but I couldn’t find anything that would tell me what I wanted to know. So, I made it tool myself!

Use it to find out how many crowns or plants you need for your family, how much space you’ll need to grow them, how much money you’ll save by growing them yourself, and more. Happy Planting!

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