Asparagus officinalis
Garden asparagus
Type/Hardiness Herbaceous, Perennial, Hardy
Flowering period Late summer
Height 36-48in/1-1.5m
Light preference Sun
Soil preference Fertile, well-drained
Sowing time/depth Autumn or Spring, 0.5in/12mm
Growing this delicious and exceedingly healthy vegetable from seed might seem a strange idea, since there is a long wait before even crowns can be harvested. Seed-grown asparagus means another year's wait, but the plants will tend to be stronger and healthier than those from bare-rooted crowns that may have been on the garden centre shelves for some considerable time, so failure is less likely. And it's fun to grow your own from scratch!

My asparagus bed, which contains plants that have grown from seed deposited in the garden by birds, has received no special care - just an occasional feed and weed - but it is very productive and the crop is delicious!

Sowing and/or growing instructions
Sow half an inch deep in a well-prepared seed bed or an area you have designated as your asparagus bed. Thin seedlings to about 2 inches apart and grow on until they are 6 inches tall, at which point they should be thinned again to about 12 inches apart. Remove any plants that produce berries, as female plants tend no to be as productive as males. Cut stems down to ground level in autumn. Asparagus grown from seed should not be harvested for three years, rather than the usual two from crowns, but you may, like me, not be able to resist taking just one or two stems before then! A rough guide to harvesting:

Up to end of first year - obviously no cutting!
Year 2 - Patience is advised, but taking one spear per plant should not weaken the plants unduly - make a ceremony of the meal!
Year 3 - Allow a harvesting season of up to 5 weeks.
Year 4 onwards - cut for up to 8 weeks maximum.

Aim to harvest when the spears are 4-6 inches long, cutting 1-4 inches below the ground, using a long, very sharp, preferably serrated knife (special asparagus knives can be bought for the purpose). Try to keep your cuts localised to prevent damage to the crown.

Latest additions to Norfolk Cottage Garden Seeds & Plants
Mirabilis jalapa Callistephus chinensis, Ex. single white Leptinella Syn. Cotula squalida 'Platt's Black' Mirabilis longiflora Pseudofumaria Syn. Corydalis lutea
Mirabilis jalapa Callistephus chinensis, Ex. single white Leptinella Syn. Cotula squalida 'Platt's Black' Mirabilis longiflora Pseudofumaria Syn. Corydalis lutea  

cerinthe-major-yellow-gem_seed
anthriscus-sylvestris-ravenswing_seed
/persicaria-bistorta_seed

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