Over the weekend, I planted a bed of asparagus up at the cabin. It’s something I’d wanted to plant for years, but had never had the room for. Being a fan of all things simple, I opted to plant my asparagus in a raised bed. It’s by far the easiest approach. Here’s how I’d recommend planting it.
When you order asparagus plants, you’ll typically receive one-year-old crowns with bareroots, like you see here. They don’t look like much. In fact, they don’t even look like they’re alive. But get them in the ground, and they’ll quickly prove themselves.
Asparagus plants are only available in the spring, so if you’re thinking about planting some this year, you need to get your order in soon. Like strawberries and peas, they can go in the ground as soon as the soil is workable.
Most asparagus planting guides call for digging trenches, making hills and doing all sorts of complicated soil prep, but if you plant your asparagus in a raised bed, you can skip all of that nonsense.
Each asparagus crown needs one foot of growing space. I wanted to plant 20 asparagus plants, so that meant I needed a 20-square-foot bed. That could have been configured any number of ways, but I opted for a 2’x10’x1′ bed. I just figured that would keep everything easy to reach.
Our friends had offered us some leftover lumber a while back, so that’s what we used to build our raised bed. Always stick to untreated wood for food beds. You don’t want chemicals to leach into your foods.
Since asparagus doesn’t like to compete with weeds, we bought bags of soil for our raised bed. It was a bit of an investment (we spent $80), but asparagus plants typically produce for 25-30 years, so I figure it’ll pay off over the long haul.
Most of today’s asparagus crowns need to be planted six-inches deep. To plant them in a raised bed, just fill the bed with six inches of soil (half way, if your bed is a foot deep).
Then, lay the crowns a foot apart, and spread the roots out around them, like you see here. Just to be super clear (because a lot of planting guides aren’t): the crown is that little nub that sits just above the roots. It’s where the asparagus will grow from. You want to make sure it’s facing up when you lay the plants out in your bed.
Finish by covering your asparagus plants with two inches of soil.
As the asparagus grows, continue to add soil, until you’ve added a total of six inches of soil. This will take you to the top of your bed, if it’s a foot deep, like mine. Add mulch, to help keep the weeds down.
Asparagus takes three years to reach maturity. Do not harvest any asparagus stalks the first year, no matter how tempted you may be. You can take a small harvest the second year, if you’d like, but be careful not to overdo it. In year three and beyond, you can harvest as much as you’d like.
To Maximize Your Harvest
Choose an all-male variety. I planted Jersey Knight Hybrid. Since it’s an all-male variety, it’ll put all of its energy into producing stalks of asparagus. This particular variety is also supposed to maintain tight tips, even if you’re a little slow to harvest it. Since were only at our cabin part-time, this sounded ideal for us. I’m anxious to see how it goes.