How to grow sweet and tender Asparagus spears
“My personal advice and tips” – Farmer Chris
Chris’s first asparagus crop of the season
“I find freshly picked Asparagus one of the most delicious vegetables known to mankind!”
I’ve loved asparagus the whole of my life and have been growing it on our Farm for the past 6 years. We have a one and a quarter acre plot which yields approximately 1 tonne (1000 kg) over the 10 week season. Today our crop is well established, very prolific and forms an important part of our annual growing programme.
Asparagus is a member of the lily family, of which there are over 150 varieties but only one of which is edible – the ‘Asparagus officinalis’. To thrive asparagus must have full sun, fertile soil (ideally with a PH of 6.5-7.5 but it’s not too fussy!) and good drainage – all of which we are blessed with on our Farm!
I am often asked by our green fingered customers how they can grow it at home, and I always answer “with a little hard work, a lot of patience and a sprinkling of love !” However it’s well worth it in the end, as once established, asparagus is low maintenance and will keep delivering delicious and tender spears for the next 25 years or more.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Asparagus plants are either male or female. Always try to use male plants as they are more prolific as no energy is wasted producing seeds and they do not produce baby plants, which can compete for space and nutrients. If any female plants do appear (they produce orange-red berries) they can be carefully removed.
Before planting it is critical to ensure there are no weeds or grasses in the planting area — asparagus will not tolerate them!
Always use some all-purpose, organic fertilizer or rock phosphate in your trench as you only get one opportunity to fortify the root zone!
To keep your asparagus bed productive, don’t be greedy in the early years! If you pick too much your plants will not be able to develop the strong root system and energy reserves they’ll need to produce an abundance of spears in the years to come
Watch out for asparagus beetles, slugs and snails – they love the tender spears as much as we do!