BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine

Plant a bed of asparagus

- GardenersW­

Patience pays off well when it comes to growing delicious asparagus spears

DIG out a 20cm deep trench to plant the crowns. Choose a site on well-drained soil. Raised beds are ideal if your soil is heavy or the site has drainage issues.

CREATE a ‘W’ shape by mounding along the bottom of the row. The ridge should be half the height of the trench. Firm along the peak so it supports the crowns.

Plant some asparagus crowns and enjoy fresh spears in the spring for years to come. It takes a few years for plants to establish, but it’s well worth the wait for that first crop. Growing from crowns allows you to start cutting spears years sooner than growing from seed.

This clump-forming perennial needs to build up strength, so that when you cut the earliest shoots for eating, it still has enough energy to put on more growth and build more energy to store in winter, ready for the following year’s crop. Leave the crop completely in the first season and just taste a few in the second. By the third, you could crop for three to four weeks. Ater that, up to eight weeks is normal. Don’t be tempted to cut spears for longer because next year’s yield will be poor.

Keep the bed in good health by weeding, and watering in dry spells. Add a dressing of general fertiliser ater you’ve finished cropping, then put organic matter on the top for the winter.

SIT the crowns on the ridge, 40cm apart, with the long, fleshy roots lying either side. Trim the roots a little if needed rather than turning them up in the trench.

PUSH the soil back over the roots, covering the crown by 2cm. As the crown shoots, pull in more soil until it is level with the rest of the bed. Soak thoroughly.

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