Asparagus is one of the first plants that greets us in springtime! It’s a perennial, which means that once it gets established, the tender spears will return year after year. In addition, its ferny foliage makes an excellent ornamental. Here’s how to grow asparagus—from planting through harvest.
Asparagus can be grown in most parts of the country but grows more robustly in cooler regions with longer winters. The edible part of the asparagus plant is the young stem shoot, which emerges as soil temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit in spring.
The most important thing to know about asparagus is that you really should not harvest it for the first couple seasons. Plants need to be allowed to mature before you can harvest. The patience is rewarded because the asparagus bed will be productive for 15, 20, sometimes 30 years.
Because asparagus stays productive for so long, it’s important to plant the best variety available for your area. (See varieties below.)
Plant in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Asparagus is usually grown from 1-year-old plants or “crowns” (bought at a garden center) but it can also be grown from seed. Starting with asparagus crowns, however, eliminates the year of tedious weeding that comes with starting from seed.
If you are starting asparagus for the first time, we would plant 10 to 20 asparagus plants per person (15 to 30 feet of row).
How Long Does It Take to Grow Asparagus?
As said above, newly-planted asparagus plants may take 2 to 3 years to truly get started and produce, so patience is needed! After they’re established, however, asparagus is productive for decades.
In addition, asparagus plants are fairly fast producers, sending up new spears every few days for a few weeks in the spring. The plant produces ½ pound of spears per foot of row in spring and early summer, so we think it’s definitely worth the wait.