I had never grown asparagus before when I mail-ordered a bunch of crowns several years ago. Turns out, asparagus is easy to grow and these plants have been thriving ever since. I get lots of fresh, delicious spears each spring and the stalks grow tall and beautiful for the rest of the season.
I’ll show you what the crowns look like and how my asparagus bed is growing.
While I grow them for the food—this is my favourite recipe for asparagus—now that I see how lovely they are, I like it equally well as an ornamental plant.
When to Order Asparagus Crowns
Asparagus crowns (the root system of a young asparagus plant used to start new plants) can be ordered by mail in late winter. Garden nurseries will ship them when the time is right to plant them in your area. You need to have a garden bed all ready. It’s best to do this prep work in the fall (digging and adding mature compost) so you can get the crowns in the ground as soon as they arrive.
I started my asparagus at the same time as cold-loving spring crops like peas.
I ordered ten Jersey Giant crowns by mail and planted them at the end of April into a new raised bed. I never had room to grow asparagus before so this was a welcome adventure.
This lists organic seed and plant mail-order companies in the United States and Canada. You may want to contact one local to you and enquire about crowns.
How To Plant Asparagus Crowns
I found some contradictory planting instructions (welcome to the world of gardening!), so I opted to follow the plans that came with the plants:
- Plant 18″ apart in trenches
- Dig trenches 15″ deep
- Fill bottom 3″ of trench with compost and then add 3″ of soil
- Plant crowns and cover with another 3″ of soil
- As the crowns send shoots up, add another 3″ of soil
- Keep free of weeds, water when dry
The ‘crowns’ are really roots (to my way of thinking). You plant them over a little mound of soil with all those little pieces aiming down, like a wig of long hair over a head. I wish the instructions had said this because I initially tried to plant them upside-down.
Here’s the cool part. After planting, I kept checking the crowns every other day, unsure of how long it would take for shoots to appear. On day seven, there were no shoots. On day nine, the shoots were suddenly 7-10 inches tall! It’s like they read the instructions…
Some of these photos were taken in different years so that’s why the garden bed appearance varies.
One Month After Planting
There are many skinny spears from each crown and some are up to 2 feet tall. So far, so good. According to the instructions, “next spring a light harvest of shoots can be taken.” The plants are mature after three years.
The squirrels are obsessed with stashing walnuts in this bed. Hope it doesn’t deter the growth…
Four Months After Planting
The plants are around 4 feet tall, full, bushy, and…tipping over. They all lean to the south. I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence or they like bowing to the sun:
This was the first year. After this, I started using straw mulch to keep the weeds down.
In this next photo you can (sort of) see how the mature asparagus can act as a hedge. That’s it on the far left of the image:
I must get a photo this year of the asparagus at full height. It reaches 6-8 feet now that the plants are several years old.
Maintenance Of The Asparagus Bed
My sandy soil and the location of the bed seem to make it a magnet for weeds.
Do I cut it back in the fall?
Most advice says never trim the green foliage. The plants need it to gather fuel for future growth. Instead, just cut back any brown (dead) parts in the spring and leave everything else alone. Sounds like a plan.
During the winter months I apply a thick layer of mulch on the bed to make sure the super cold weather doesn’t damage the crowns.
Do We Approve?
Yes! After the first year, I started harvesting the spears in mid-spring. Now, a few years later, I have more than I can eat and share the surplus. Absolutely delicious.
And, as I mentioned, asparagus is a very pretty plant. I’d grow it even if I couldn’t (eventually) eat it.
Now Let’s Devour It