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Growing Asparagus

Crisp, succulent and delicately flavored, asparagus spears are a lovely addition to the dinner table. It's no wonder that this perennial vegetable is a favorite among home vegetable gardeners.

Asparagus grows well in most areas of the United States, except the Deep South. It thrives in a climate where the winters are cold enough to freeze the top few inches of soil and provide it with the necessary period of dormancy.
Although asparagus can be started from seeds, the best-quality plants come from crowns that can be ordered from a nursery. Plant asparagus four to six weeks before the area's average date of last frost.

Asparagus plants with a trench
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A trench helps deliver sufficient water to asparagus spears as they grow.

Asparagus needs well-drained soil with a pH above 6. Full sun is best. To plant asparagus crowns, dig a trench or furrow l0 inches wide and l0 to l2 inches deep. Put in 2 to 4 inches of soil mixed with organic matter. Place the crowns on the soil with the roots well spread out. Cover with 2 more inches of soil. As the spears grow, gradually fill in the trench to the top. It's important to give asparagus sufficient water when the spears are forming.


Asparagus should not be harvested until it is three years old; the crowns need time to develop fully. During the third season, cut off the spears at or slightly below soil level. Harvest asparagus when the spears are 8 to l0 inches tall; if the stalks have started to feather out, it's too late to eat them. Stop harvesting when the stalks begin coming up pencil-thin.

Asparagus Growing Tips

These tips will help you grow succulent and delicious asparagus:
  • Mulch asparagus every spring with several inches of compost or decayed livestock manure. Asparagus, a greedy feeder, will use all the nutrients it can get its roots on and grow that much better for it. By mulching in the spring, you can fertilize, help keep the soil moist, and reduce weed seed germination all in one effort. The shoots that arise through the mulch will grow especially plump and succulent.
  • Make fancy white asparagus spears with a simple blanching basket. This European connoisseur's vegetable is easy to grow at home. When the spears first emerge in spring, cover them with a bucket, basket, or mound of soil that will exclude all light. Harvest when the spears reach 8 to 10 inches tall and before the ferny leaves begin to emerge.
Types of Asparagus
You have several types of asparagus to choose from when growing asparagus in your home garden. White asparagus is not listed below, because it is not a different variety of asparagus -- it is green asparagus that is grown without exposure to sunlight.
We've listed the different varieties of asparagus below.
  • Mary Washington is widely available and resistant to asparagus rust.
  • UC l57 was developed for Southern climates. It is resistant to fusarium root.
  • Purple Passion is a novelty with purple spears.
  • Jersey Giant is disease resistant.
Knowing how to select asparagus is the key to enjoying this delicious vegetable. Learn how to select asparagus in the next section.

Want more information about asparagus? Try:
  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature asparagus.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.