How Long Does Asparagus Take to Grow?

Garden Troubleshooting

How Long Does Asparagus Take to Grow?

Growing Asparagus takes a lot of time and therefore a lot of patience. However, once it’s ready to be harvested it can produce several spears of healthy asparagus for years and years to come. The only issue is that many gardeners are unaware of exactly how long asparagus takes to grow from sowing the seeds to harvesting the shoots.

So how long does asparagus take to grow? After planting, asparagus takes 3 years to grow. That may seem like a lot of work for one crop however, once those initial years of growing are complete, the plant will produce new spears of asparagus every year for over 2 decades!

Although the general consensus is that asparagus takes 3 years to grow until harvest, some factors can influence when your asparagus will be ready.

 

Asparagus Seeds vs. Crowns

Asparagus Seeds vs Asparagus Crowns

You can start your asparagus crop by seed, or by planting crowns. While planting crowns is the more popular way of planting asparagus, starting it by seed is still a valid way to grow asparagus. The only drawback of starting your asparagus crop from seeds is that it takes an extra year for it to grow.

Asparagus crowns feature a group of about a dozen or so long roots that all lead up to a small nub at the stop. After planting these crowns, it will take 3 years until an asparagus crop is ready for harvest.

Asparagus seeds come from a small, bright red berry. Each berry contains about 3 to 4 seeds. After sowing these seeds in your garden, you can expect your asparagus crop to be ready in 4 years time.

As stated before, asparagus are a slow growing plant. This is why many choose to purchase crowns from a nursery as it cuts down the growing time from 4 years to 3 years until harvest. However, I would argue that asparagus seeds are the way to go. This is because seeds provide more “bang for your buck” in the long run.

Crowns are usually sold in small bunches for a few dollars or more, but for the same price or even less, a packet of seeds usually contains 12 to 15 asparagus seeds. While planting crowns significantly cuts down on the time until harvest, keep in mind that once those initial years of growing are done, each plant will be producing asparagus every season for several years to come. Therefore, seeds are the way to go.

After the First Year…

If you are planting your asparagus by seed, the first year of growing is going to be uneventful. Your asparagus will sprout and will also start developing its root system. At this point, the asparagus plant will have developed the crowns that you commonly see being sold at nurseries and garden stores.

After the Second Year…

At this point, asparagus spears will start to appear out of the ground in early spring. Although it may look like your asparagus are ready to be harvested, and you certainly can do so at this point, it is recommended that you leave them be. This is so that the plant can plant can develop better roots and foliage for a healthier growth next year.

This is also a good time to start applying fertilizer. A good fertilizer for asparagus is 10-10-10 fertilizer. This can be applied in the early spring or in the fall.

Later in the season, your asparagus plants will develop into asparagus ferns. It is recommended that you cut back these ferns around late fall when they begin to turn brown. You may also notice little red berries appearing on the plant. These are the asparagus berries discussed earlier. Although these berries are poisonous, you harvest the seeds inside of them and save them for next planting season.

After the Third Year…

The third year will be pretty similar to the last year. Asparagus spears will come up from the soil in spring. At this point, you can harvest some of the asparagus but leave at least half of them to continue growing and develop into ferns. Continue fertilizing your asparagus and cut back the ferns once more in the fall.

After the Fourth Year…

Finally, all your hard work and patience will have paid off. Around April in the fourth year of growing, your asparagus will once again shoot up from the ground and you can harvest as many asparagus as you would like. To harvest asparagus, wait until the spears grow to be about six inches tall. Then, harvest the asparagus by cutting the spears just below the soil line.

Keep in mind that asparagus spears are fast growers. Therefore it is important to check your garden regularly for new spears as they will continuously sprout up during spring.

Around the beginning of June, it is recommended that you stop harvesting the remaining asparagus spears and let them develop into ferns. Harvesting over a long period of time can result in a weakened plant and therefore it will be far less productive in future years. Then in the fall, cut back the asparagus ferns and harvest the seeds from the berries if you’d like.

The Following Years…

Whenever spring rolls around, you can expect a healthy harvest of asparagus from your garden. Just make sure that you don’t over-harvest your asparagus as it will damage the plant and result in it being far less productive the following years. With just a little bit of care and some patience, asparagus will come shooting out of the ground every spring for years and years to come.

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