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Growing asparagus in home gardens

A quick guide to asparagus

  • An asparagus plant can last 15 years. Choose its spot in the garden carefully.
  • You can start asparagus from seed or from one-year-old roots, called “crowns.”
  • Crowns grow vertically and horizontally. Planting at the right depth is important.
  • Good soil moisture is important at planting for good root and fern growth.
  • Begin harvest two years after planting crowns, three years after planting seeds.
  • Harvest spears until June 30, and then allow the large feathery ferns to develop.

Asparagus is a sign of spring 

Bunches of green asparagus spears at a market

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is one of the earliest harvested vegetables each spring. Asparagus spears are crisp, tender and flavorful. The asparagus harvest season lasts about 6-8 weeks, from early May to late June in Minnesota. In the peak of asparagus season, asparagus spears can grow up to 2 inches per day, producing bountiful harvests for gardeners to enjoy.

How asparagus grows

Asparagus is a unique crop. It is one of the few perennial vegetables grown in Minnesota; others include horseradish and rhubarb.

The edible parts of the plant are called the spears. These are technically the stems of the plants. The spears emerge from underground buds at the base of the root system. These buds and roots are called “crowns.” If spears are left to grow, they develop leaves and are called “ferns.” Asparagus harvest is only two months instead of the entire season, because the plants need a chance to let the ferns grow in order to recover and build up energy for the next year.

The fern creates energy that will be stored in the underground portion of the plant to produce the following year’s spears. It is important to take care of the ferns even after the harvest is over to make sure you will have good future harvests.

Soil pH and fertility for asparagus

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Selecting plants

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Planting

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How to keep asparagus healthy and productive

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Cindy Tong, Extension horticulturalist, Jill MacKenzie and Annie Klodd, Assistant Extension professor

Reviewed in 2018

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