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The lost plot: Growing asparagus

The lost plot: Growing asparagus

Nothing tastes as delicious as asparagus picked straight from the garden.

Unlike most vegetables, asparagus is a perennial and can last for 20 years. It’s not too early to start preparing a bed for it, although the crowns won’t be on sale yet. The bed should be in light, well-drained soil and well dug over, with as much as possible well-rotted organic matter incorporated. I can’t emphasise enough that there should be absolutely no perennial weeds left in the ground, as asparagus hates its roots to be disturbed.

To plant asparagus crowns, dig trenches spaced 450mm apart and 450mm deep, and make a low ridge down the centre. In heavy soils, plant them more shallowly, but earth up the stems as they grow. Place crowns about 100mm to 150mm deep, spreading out the roots on either side of the ridge. Space them 300mm apart, and earth over the trench.

In spring, the first spears should appear. They should not be harvested in the first year, and only in the second year if they are about the thickness of a finger.

Only harvest for a couple of weeks and then allow the plant to go to fern – the spears will turn to ferny foliage – to feed the bed for the next season’s crop. By the third year, the plants should be producing well and can be harvested for longer.

Asparagus is a maritime plant and likes to be fed with seaweed or fish fertiliser, but any manure will do.

First published: Mar 2019

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