Here at the Villas, we’re massive asparagus fans! I first started to grow it three of four years ago when I bought half a dozen Connovers Colossal crowns in the bargain bin at my local garden centre. I already had a small raised bed dedicated to the cause, dug over and raring to go, so in they went, making my first row.
Since then I have experimented with growing asparagus from seed (fun to do but there’s no knowing whether your resulting plants are male or female – male plants apparently produce better spears) and the following year some Jersey Knight variety compost block grown plants that I got from one of Sowandso‘s favourite online nurseries, Victoriana. So I think you can safely say when it comes to growing asparagus I’m a bit of an all-rounder.
However, last month when spears started pushing up through the soil I noticed there were some gaps that needed filling where a few of the plants appeared to have failed – mostly ones that I had grown from seed. I remembered reading last year about a new variety called Pacific 2000 so I paid a visit to the Crocus website – another of my favourites – and treated myself to ten crowns, with a view to filling those gaps …AND squeezing in one more row!
Apparently Pacific 2000 is one of the tastiest varieties around. Bred in New Zealand, the slender spears, ready for harvesting from early to mid May, are deliciously sweet and succulent and can be eaten cooked or eaten raw.
So, at last I feel our asparagus bed is fit for purpose and on the cusp of great things. Apart from annual top dressing and earthing up, I feel I can relax a little and look forward to harvesting this luxury crop for decades to come. As I said – we’re in for the long haul.
Asparagus Care Tips
One last thing. The folk at Crocus sent me some excellent asparagus care tips that I would like to share with you:
- Prepare the bed well (ideally in the autumn before planting) by removing all the weeds and digging in lots of well rotted manure or composted organic matter
- When planting crowns, dig a trench approximately 30cm wide and 20cm deep and work a little more organic matter into the bottom of the trench
- Using the excavated soil, create a 10cm tall, arched ridge down the length of the trench and sit the crowns on top. Allow 30 to 45 cm between each plant
- Spread the roots out to form a star shape and cover them with the remaining soil, leaving the tops of the crowns just visible. Subsequent rows should be at 45cm intervals with staggered planting
- Immediately after planting, water thoroughly and mulch with a generous layer of composted organic matter
- During the growing season keep them well fed with a dressing of general purpose fertiliser and make sure the bed is free of weeds
- The first spears will appear soon after planting but it is important that these are not cut but allowed to develop into feathery stems throughout the summer. These can be cut back to just above ground level after they have started to die back in the autumn
- Before the new spears appear in subsequent years, make a ridge of soil 0ver each row and apply a dressing of general purpose fertiliser
- If you can, also try to resist harvesting the spears which appear in the second year, as the plant should be left to develop a robust crown before you start cutting the spears in their third year