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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Wenzel

How to Grow a Patch of Asparagus and Eat Free for Decades

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

There's nothing like fresh handpicked asparagus! Plant a patch of asparagus, and you'll have this tasty and nutritious food growing for decades to come! You'll need lots of patients to get these plants established, but once you do, it will be worth it!

Before we go into great detail about planting asparagus, let's start by covering some general rules for growing it.

  • Well-drained soil is imperative to the plant's health. Growing your asparagus in raised beds is a great way to get better drainage in your dirt.

  • Asparagus plants can generate yields for up to 30 years (or longer), so choose a place where the plants can be left to grow wild!

  • Although asparagus can tolerate partial shade, you'll get the best harvest and the healthiest plants when they can grow in full sun.

  • Avoid locations with strong winds.

  • The ideal pH range for asparagus is 6.5 to 7.0.

Planting from Seeds

Pick your favorite variety of asparagus. Many varieties of asparagus are available but choosing one suited to your growing zone will increase your chances of having a successful patch. Most types are hardy in zones 3 to 8.

Now it's time to prepare a raised bed. The bed needs to be 8 inches deep to accommodate asparagus plants. Till up the ground and remove any weeds or grass. Add 4 to 6 inches of black dirt and top it off with plenty of compost and manure. (2-4 inches)

  • Weeds and grass must be pulled frequently so that the plants do not have to compete for nutrients and sun. Mulching and cultivation are two of the best methods for controlling weeds.

  • Mulch will assist in retaining moisture and regulating soil temperature. The most frugal way to mulch is to lay 5 to 10 sheets of newspaper between asparagus rows. Water the paper to hold it in place and cover it with leaf compost, grass clippings, straw, or other yard wastes. Keeping plant stems free of mulch is essential to avoid rot.

  • For the first 3 years, water is critical while the plant is getting established! The dirt needs to be moist but not saturated. Water in the morning so that the ground can be well-drained by nightfall.

Plant asparagus seeds indoors eight to 12 weeks ahead of transplanting outdoors after the threat of frost has expired. The seeds need to be planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in a sterile seed mix.

Locate the tray or pots in a sunny, warm location and keep the soil moist. Seedlings might appear in 14 to 21 days or longer, so it's essential to be patient with them.

A week before transplanting outside, harden off the seedlings in a cold frame or shielded area such as a covered porch.

When seedlings are two inches high, transplant into the prepared bed and space each plant 12 to 18 inches apart. Reference the seed packet for recommended spacing.

Planting from Roots or Crowns

While growing asparagus from seed is the most budget-friendly way to establish plants, it also is the longest and most labor-intensive. Thankfully, there is a way to speed up the process! You can purchase young plants to transplant into your beds in the spring. A crown is the root base typically of a one-year-old plant so that the first year of caring for them is already done for you.

  • Plant crowns 12-18 inches apart in well-drained trenches 3 inches deep.

  • Plant the crowns with the roots down and cover them with another three inches of soil.

  • Once the crowns sprout up shoots, add another 3 inches or so of soil.

  • Like planting from seed, keep the soil moist and mulched to keep weeds from invading.

Find asparagus for free

Asparagus grows freely in ditches. If you can dig up a few roots, you'll know that the variety is extremely hardy in your area. If you are unsure if the plants are on private property, look elsewhere or stop at the house nearest to ask. You may also have friends, coworkers, or family who have some. In the spring, ask them if you can dig up a few roots or collect a few seeds later in the year.


Although it will be tempting to binge on fresh garden asparagus the first year, this will be a mistake. The plants need time to establish solid roots and strength. In the first year after planting, it's ok to harvest a few spears from each plant across two weeks. Leave the rest to grow and transfer energy to the plant's root system. The following year, you can harvest for three weeks, and after that, four to six weeks.

Fall Preparations

  • Allow plants to grow through fall. Cut them two inches above the ground when fronds brown and remove the spent foliage from the area. Add mulch at this time if your growing zone has cold winters.

Fertilizing Asparagus

  • Fertilize in spring (after harvests) and in late summer with a liquid fertilizer, compost tea, or granular, balanced fertilizer.

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