Many people don’t know what they are missing when it comes to home grown Asparagus… (Boiled for 10 minutes, drained and butter splurged over them and a bit of salt sprinkled) Absolutely Deeeeeelicious..
Well we think so… and so do my family past and present. We always had asparagus growing wherever we were living. We grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe and eventually had our own 12 acre plot with a 2 acre veg patch and huge asparagus bed.. Now my Allotment has a new bed as well.
Like other perennial vegetables growing asparagus is easy to do but it takes a bit of effort to get started. It is nearly maintenance free once established. They do take up a lot of room for what you get from them (only a 6-8 week cropping period) but well worth it if you have the space. They can grow on for 20 years and need a sunny position so plan your asparagus bed well.
You can buy 1 year old crowns or you can grow from seed. Crowns give you a crop a year earlier than seed but you can cheat a bit like I did this year. Crowns are easier but a lot more expensive.
Last year I bought 2 packets of seed on ebay for a couple of quid and had a huge success with them.
Although they can take quite a few weeks (up to 10) to germinate I got a fantastic germination… probably 99%!! I sowed my seed on 29 January – 2 per module in plain non heated propagators. These were put in my spare room on a table above the central heating along with my other seeds and just left to get on with it. They started to germinate after two weeks and all were up in about 4-8 weeks. They lived in the bedroom till the weather warmed up and I then put them into the greenhouse – probably around April sometime. I soaked the seed for a few hours before sowing.
I potted them into 3″ pots in May and left them in the GH to grow on. I then planted them out on 20 August after my potatoes were dug up. I prepared the bed with manure and fertilizer.
Crowns Berries/Seeds off the plant Dry seeds New Ferns
I basically saved myself a year by doing them early, potting them on to 3″ pots and then planting out.. By waiting for the spuds to come out I really saved a year as I had two crops in one year in the same bed.
They had produced a load of good roots and small ferns by the end of the Summer. Well worth the hassle of sowing and potting up and saved a fortune… 2 packs of seed from Ebay for £2 and I got about 200 odd (double) plants. Thats only 1p per plant. I have planted out far too many! (108 plants). They all started as doubles and by the end of Summer had loads of new ferns growing. I gave away loads to friends and other plotters on the site.
Crowns vary in price from £1 – £5 each and can normally be found as specials on various websites. They are sold as open/dry root and normally planted out in Spring. Although easier and less hassle I would always do the same as I did with seed this year. Crowns take 2-3 years before you can pick and seed an extra year. You can also collect seed yourself and plant them out with good results.
I planted mine far too close but i’ll keep feeding a bit more than needed and will eventually dig up and give away crowns once my bed is established.. maybe!!
Just a tip about picking and cooking… When the spears reach about 8-10″ high you must snap them off near the ground. Don’t cut them off below ground because this can damage other spear buds in the vicinity. When cooking we tie them in a bundle and boil for 10-12 minutes, splurge with a bit of butter and salt and eat.. Cooking in a bundle seems to be better than loose. We also blitz them in a liquidizer with butter once cooked and spread on toast or cooked meats like steak..
“Steak with Asparagus sauce” Oooo – I can taste it already