How to Grow Asparagus for Beginners in the UK
Thanks for taking the time to read our article on how to grow asparagus for beginners in the UK. Asparagus is easy enough to grow but just be aware that you need to prepare the soil properly, have plenty of space in your vegetable garden and it will need to have regular hand weeding.
So although easy enough to grow, there is a fair amount of maintenance work to do once you have the asparagus planted. We believe it is worth the effort though.
Asparagus needs very good drainage, as much sun as possible and it needs to be grown where there is protection from the UK winds.
You usually grow this vegetable from what are called crowns, though it can also be grown from seed. It takes about 2 years to see your first crop, and one plant will give you about 20-25 spears of asparagus.
So yes it requires some patience initially but the yield will be very good.
Asparagus is a perennial plant so it will be there each year for you. It is expensive to buy so you may as well grow your own.
You can grow this in your vegetable garden or in raised beds.
There are a lots of variations on this vegetable but we have included the main varieties below:
- Connovers Colossal- This is available as seeds or as crowns and has a thick stalk, which is an early cropper and very good for freezing
- Minerve - This is a French asparagus and will give you a higher yield than many other varieties
- Sutton's Perfection- This asparagus is a well established variety which is reliable and sturdy and almost always is bought as a crown
- Lorella - This is another French asparagus with thick stems and a high yield
- Giant Mammoth - Not that popular in the UK but some gardeners love it
- Jersey Giant - This is a hybrid asparagus that is highly resistant to diseases and works well in light or sandy soils
- Apollo - This works well in most climates and is also highly resistant to disease
- Viking KBC - Very resistant to disease and produces very high yields,
Asparagus Plant Facts
The Asparagus vegetable is easier to grow from a crown. Ideally the crown should be about 1 year old. As mentioned earlier asparagus can be grown from seed but you will need to wait about 3 years for any crop.
Asparagus has the spears which is the edible part and the foilage is a fern. This is a decorative foil which helps the plant grow and shouldn'e be removed.
Sow thinly to 1" depth in drills that are 1 feet apart. Thin to 6" when the seedlings are about 3" in height. You can then plant out the plants the following Spring
Yield per Plant
Time between planting crowns &cutting
Ease of Growing
Easy- though soil preparation is vital, having enough space and hand weeding.
- Sowing Time - mid March to end of April
- Planting Time - mid March to end of April
- Cutting Time - Mid April - Mid June
Best Soil & Planting Tips for Asparagus
Good drainage is vitally important. Asparagus will grow in most soil types. The soil does need to be thoroughly dug in the Autumn and you will need to add lots of compost to the soil at this time.
Lime may need to be added if you have an acid soil type.
During this digging period in the Autumn get rid of all weeds, and leave the soil rough after digging. When planting time comes around mid March, fork the soil over and rake in a good fertiliser.
If the soil is very wet when planting time occurs is is best to delay planting for a couple of weeks.
Maintaining the Asparagus Plant
Asparagus needs all the goodness from the soil so weed regularly during the growth periods. You may need to provide some support for the plants if required.
Water during dry spells and remove any berries before they fall to the ground.
During the Autumn period is the time to cut down any fern stems as soon as they turn a yellow colour. Leave the stumps about 2" above the surface.
Asparagus Pests and Problems
Slugs will attack the plants especially during any type of wet weather. You will notice them by their tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop. You may also see this silver trail on the leaves.
Avoid this pest by spreading slug pellets around the plants. There are other ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, copper tape and biocontrols.
Grubs and larger adult beetles will attack and eat the stems and the foilage. Larger beetles will actually strip the leaves. They are easy to spot as they have orange marks on a black body.
The best thing to quickly deal with these is Liquid Derris or Malathion as soon as you spot them.
Violet Root Rot
This is a a serious disease for the asparagus plant. The roots will get covered in a purple mould, the leaves will turn yellow and quickly die. If you get a really bad attack of this then that section of asparagus is lost.
You will need to dig them up and destroy them and start a new bed somewhere else in your garden.
These do need to be planted out in March to April and in the UK we can still get frost at those times. You need to protect young shoots otherwise they will turn black and die off.
If that happens you will need to remove and destroy the damaged shoots. The best thing to do if you see frost forecasted is to cover the shoots with sacks or straw to protect the shoots.
Rust coloured spots can start to appear on the leaves in the Summer period. If you see these then cut down and destroy the affected plants.
On good plants you should get thick spears but from time to time you may get a few thinner spears up to 1/8" in size. That can just happen with any asparagus plant.
That happens if the cutting was delayed the previous season. It can also happen if the plants were fed.
We mentioned earlier about supporting the plants as they start to grow. We would always recommend doing that as it avoids this particular problem. If unsupported the roots can weaken and that can lead to the plant rotting.
Video on How to Asparagus from Seed in the UK
Harvesting & Use
Not long after planting crowns the shoots will appear pretty quickly in the first year. You should not cut these in year 1 but simply allow them to develop into ferns. This is allowing the plant to establish.
In the following year you can cut a few of them though ideally it is better to leave them and again let the ferns develop.
You can start your serious cutting in the second year after planting as soon as the spears are about 4-5" tall. As shown in the video cut these about 2-3" under the soil.
You can use an asparagus knife to do this, or any sharp serrated kitchen knife will do.
Video on How to Cook Asparagus
If you have never grown asparagus before then we recommend giving it a try as long as you are willing to wait for 2-3 years to enjoy the results.
They are easy to grow and any soil type works well.