How to grow Asparagus
GARDENING - GROW YOUR OWN VEG
late April, when winter has waned, the asparagus season will
be tantalisingly close. Taste buds across the country will
be waiting in eager anticipation of the annual feast. But
some asparagus aficionados may have limited understanding
of how their flavour-packed spears arrive on their plates.
British asparagus is the best, tastiest and most nutritious
available, however, few people currently grow asparagus despite
the current national obsession with grow your own. Imagine
the satisfaction of serving a sumptuous dish of home-grown
asparagus to friends or family.
The question is, why dont we grow our own asparagus?
Perhaps it is because asparagus growing commands respect and
is a labour of love. Investment of time and patience is required,
combined with the acceptance of a high quality but low yield
- this is precisely why it is not the cheapest vegetable to
buy in the shops. But the results and rewards paid back by
this delicious vegetable are hugely satisfying on arrival
in the kitchen, ready to be popped in to a host of divine
You do not need acres of land or huge experience to grow
asparagus, just a genuine passion for the plant, commitment,
a few essential items and this step-by-step how to
grow guide written by the asparagus growers of www.british-asparagus.co.uk.
The Guide to Growing Asparagus
What you will need
asparagus one-year-old crowns
beds for planting the crowns
for digging over and preparing the planting site
of well-rotted garden compost
can for watering the plants
for cutting down the old stems in the autumn
asparagus knife for harvesting the spears
Importance of preparation
Asparagus will grow well if you set up the right conditions
from the outset it is worth it as the plants will
crop for up to twenty years once established. Find a sheltered
and sunny spot where the soil is reasonably fertile and
Thoroughly prepare the ground. Ideally it should be excavated
to a depth of 60cm. If the soil has clay content put a layer
of stone or broken bricks in the bottom to help with drainage.
It is also an advantage with heavier clay soils to end up
with the top of your beds 30cm above natural ground level.
As the soil is put back into the trench add either some
well rotted animal manure or compost to improve the soil
organic matter and help build fertility. If possible, take
soil samples for analysis as the soil ph should be 6.4 to
6.8 and in addition to any manure or compost you have incorporated
you may need to add phosphate and potash but follow the
soil test suggestions. This will need addressing annually
and a small amount of nitrogen will need to be applied as
A bed 1.5m wide will allow the planting of three rows with
45cm between the rows and approximately 25cm between the
plants. If space is more limited a bed 1m wide will accommodate
two rows spaced as above.
Bed them in correctly
Asparagus can be grown from seed, although it is easier
and more rewarding for those who are less patient to grow
asparagus from a one year old crown - a ready-grown
plant which you can buy from a garden centre or nursery.
Crowns weighing a minimum of 60gms each should be planted
Just prior to planting immerse the crowns in water to re-hydrate
them. Excavate small trenches along the proposed line of
planting, with the base being 15cm below original ground
level, lay the moist crowns in the trench, spaced as suggested
above and cover with soil. The soil surface across the bed
will be level with 13 to 15cm of soil above all of the crowns.
As a rough guide, when the beds are in full production,
each crown should produce 250gms during the season.
Keep the growing area well weeded - hand weed rather than
use a hoe to avoid damaging the emerging plants. In early
spring gently remove soil from above one or two crowns and
check the depth of soil over them. This needs to be maintained
at 14 to 15cm and as the crowns slowly grow higher in the
soil year on year, after 3 to 4 years additional soil may
need importing from another area of the garden to maintain
this essential soil cover.
When and how to harvest
Do not harvest asparagus the first year after planting
but let the spears develop to fern and allow the plant time
to grow and increase its root system which in turn will
play a vital role in storing adequate levels of carbohydrates,
the fuel needed to produce the harvestable spears in future
In the second year after planting harvest for a short period,
not exceeding two weeks and from year three harvest for 6
to 8 weeks. Harvesting beyond mid-summer will shorten the
life of the bed.
Top tips from the growers
can be a killer! Late spring frosts can be dangers, so cover
the bed with some garden fleece if a frost is predicted
asparagus matures it has a tendency to rise out of the soil,
so keep covering the crowns with soil
complete fertiliser will need applying annually, with a
5-10-10 being adequate for the first three years and after
that a 5-5-10
the fern to grow right through to the end of the year by
which time it will have turned brown. Then cut all the stems
at ground level and remove, either composting or destroying.
Do not leave it lying on or near the beds as this will increase
the risk of carrying over disease to the following year
Article provided by www.british-asparagus.co.uk
WITH CHORIZO AND POACHED EGG
1 tbsp olive oil
110g chorizo, sliced
Handful chives, chopped
the oven to 210°C
your British asparagus into a roasting dish, add the olive
oil and place in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes.
a hot frying pan add the slices of chorizo. Cook on both
sides for 2 minutes until the paprika oil oozing out of
place a pan of boiling water on the hob and bring to a fast
rolling boil. When you have 3 minutes to go before serving
crack your 2 eggs into the boiling water and immediately
lower the heat to low-medium for 2 minutes. Then turn the
heat off completely.
the British Asparagus from the oven and place on a serving
dish, sprinkle over the hot chorizo slices, and with a slotted
spoon add the 2 poached eggs.
drizzle over the paprika oil and finish with the chives.
Recipe provided by www.british-asparagus.co.uk
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