Make an asparagus bed this month and you’ll still be harvesting sweet, succulent spears 20 years from now.
Asparagus is one of the best-value crops you can grow. It’s really expensive in the shops – yet if you grow your own it costs pennies, and you get to feast each spring on as much as you can eat! You’ll find asparagus crowns on sale at the garden centre here in Henley on Thames right now ready to plant a little later in spring, so pop in this week to make sure you get your favourite varieties as they’re snapped up fast.
Prepare the soil well now, ready for the new arrivals, and you’ll give them the best possible start. Dig over the area where you’ll be growing your asparagus, then dig in plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost.
Asparagus prefers really sharp drainage, so if you’re growing in very heavy soil, make sure you plant modern varieties bred to cope with less-than-ideal conditions (ask our knowledgeable staff here at the garden centre if you’re not sure which variety to choose). Planting into raised beds also helps as the roots are lifted out of the wettest soil. Digging in plenty of grit also helps water run through more easily.
When you buy your crowns, soak them for an hour in a bucket of water to plump them up, then plant them straight away in trenches 30cm deep and 45cm wide. Mound up soil along the bottom of the trench in a ridge, and drape the spidery roots of each crown on either side so they hang down cleanly. The crown of the plant should be just below soil level. Backfill with soil and leave to establish for a couple of seasons so you can enjoy melt-in-the-mouth, flavour-filled spears for decades to come.