American culture and British cultivation ideas conflict over Asparagus. I will follow the British method of cutting the old ferns in Autumn to about 5cm and mulching. In America, in anticipation of heavy snows, they leave the ferns to protect the plant crowns. My bed will be in its third winter and next spring will see my first crop.
I planted Asparagus varieties Dariana and Gijnlim in a new bed prepared for the purpose. I took out all the weeds and added sand to improve the drainage of my clay soil. The roots were spalyed out on a slight ridge and organic matter had been added to the soil some weeks earlier. The strongest grower has been Gijnlim with 5 foot high fronds and some good crowns for the future. I lost about 20% of the plants for no apparent reason other than my lack of care I guess.
The bed is now maturing quite well despite our northern climate and a more clay rather thasn sandy soil than I would like.
Some years ago I lived in the South of England and built up a good bed of Asparagus that should still be cropping some 15 years later. If my crop fails I will have to return to Woking and ask for a sample.
In the days of year round vegetables the allure of home grown vegetables has been somewhat diminished. But, if you have ever eaten homegrown asparagus freshly cut from the garden you will know it is a delicacy well worth enjoying. I even recommend avoiding asparagus out of season and only eat home grown, freshly cut asparagus. You can’t beat the real thing.
Important Tips for Asparagus
Growing asparagus needs a certain amount of patience. In the first year you can take very little from the plant. However, if properly prepared, asparagus beds can provide a long running output of delicious asparagus stems for the kitchen.
How To Grow Asparagus
- Choose a well Drained patch of soil. Asparagus hates to have its roots sitting in damp and boggy ground.
- The best time to plant roots is in March.
- If you have heavy soil work in some grit to improve the drainage of the soil.
- Measure out beds 1m (3ft) apart
- Make 2 ridges about 1 feet apart running down length of bed
- Drape the crowns over the ridges so that the roots hang down the slope
- Shovel the topsoil back over them, making a raised bed as you do so.
- In the first year, you will see the first shoots, but, these should not be cut, you will not be harvesting until the next year.
- In November cut back the growth once the leaves turn yellow.
- In the first spring, limit yourself to 2 cuttings.
- In the second spring stop cutting on June 1st – allowing plenty of time for regeneration.
- Then in the following year you are free to cut until mid June.
- If you left the plants rest in June, and heavily manure them, you may get a second crop in September.
- If you take them inside a greenhouse and provide heat at the base you can get a crop until October / November but this is more difficult.