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Home & garden.

Updated: 29 Apr 2022

How to grow asparagus and best varieties

Asparagus is expensive in the shops so it's well worth the space it occupies in the garden. Discover our best asparagus varieties and tips for how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas
Asparagus

Asparagus is a real spring treat. It's a perennial veg, which means that it crops year after year. Once established, you can expect 10 plants to yield about 3kg of spears over a six-week period for up to 20 years.

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How to grow asparagus: month by month

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Full testing results for asparagus

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and detailed reviews of which are our Best Buy varieties. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Variety name 
Overall ratingCropping window 
All male 
Uncooked appeal 
Appearance 
Aroma 
Flavour 
Texture 
Cooked spear quality 
EarlyNo
EarlyYes
MidNo
LateYes
MidNo
LateYes
All seasonYes

USING THE TABLE The more stars the better. OVERALL RATING Ignores price and is based on flavour and texture 50%; overall quality of the spears 20%; appearance 15%; aroma 15%

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How we test asparagus

Our panel of tasters, who are trained to identify and rate the individual components of taste, assessed how appetising the spears were both uncooked and steamed (the best cooking method to retain their colour).They were looking for bright and fresh-looking spears that were straight and firm, evenly sized and with tight tips. Spears should smell grassy and green when uncooked and develop a slight hint of pea when cooked. But they lost marks if the taste or smell had a tinge of compost about it. We looked for varieties that had a fresh asparagus flavour, moderately sweet, with a slight bitterness. Spears should be firm but tender when cooked, ideally without woodiness, grittiness and astringency.

Planting

Preparing the bed

Grow asparagus on well-drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil that is free of perennial weeds, such as dandelions, or in raised beds. Dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, such as spent mushroom compost. For a quicker first harvest, plant one-year-old crowns in April.

Spacing

Allow 40cm between the plants in a row, and 90cm between rows. Dig a trench or hole wide enough to spread out the roots, place the crown on a mound 10-13cm below the soil surface, with the roots radiating out to the sides. Cover with loose soil. It’s best to leave your first major harvest until the plants are three years old.

Caring for your plants

In March, apply a balanced-fertiliser or mulch of well-rotted organic matter to established beds. Keep the asparagus bed weed-free; it’s best to weed by hand because you might damage the shallow roots with a hoe.

How and when to harvest

Harvest in: April-June

Cut the spears when they are 10cm long and have a tight bud. Use a sharp knife and cut 2.5-5cm below the soil. Stop cutting spears of two-year-old plants in May to allow the ferns to develop further, and in mid-June for established plants.

In autumn

Cut the dead ferns down to ground level in October or November and clear away the debris to remove asparagus beetles hibernating there.

Common growing problems

Asparagus beetle

Asparagus beetles are small yellow-and-black beetles with red heads. Their buff-coloured grubs eat the ferns, weakening the plants. Pick them off from early May.

Read more about asparagus beetles.