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Growing Asparagus and Rhubarb

Growing Asparagus and Rhubarb

Asparagus

Asparagus is a fabulous thing to grow for yourself. Plants (or ‘Crowns’) can be planted in either autumn or spring. Planting in autumn, when the soil is warmer, offers one main advantage - it gives your crowns a head start in getting established, ready to really go for it in spring. 

How long does asparagus take to grow and how much will each crown produce?

A single row of 6-8 crowns will start to produce a decent crop after two years. Once it’s established, each asparagus crown can produce up to 25 spears a year and will continue to do so for up to 25 years!

Where do I plant Asparagus?

Choose a sunny, well-drained spot. It’s probably going to be in whichever place you choose for a number of years, so bear that in mind when deciding where to put it.

How do I prepare an asparagus bed for planting - and how do I plant the crowns?

  • Asparagus crowns have shallow roots which are easily damaged, so it's important to start with a weed-free bed before you plant, to avoid any damage weeding around them.
  • They like really good drainage, so it’s best planted onto pre-prepared ‘trenches’ around 20cm (10") deep by 30cm (12") wide (you’ll be planting them around 45cm (18”) apart, so work out the length of trench(es) accordingly).
  • Improve the soil you’ve taken out of your trenches by mixing in a few buckets of compost and well-rotted manure.
  • If you have particularly wet soil, mixing in plenty of sharp sand or grit is a good idea at this stage.
  • Put some well-rotted manure in the bottom of your trenches, to help feed the Mound the excavated soil/ compost/grit mix back into the trenches, on top of the manure, to form a narrow ridge over the middle of each trench.
  • Place each asparagus crown on top of the ridge with their roots draped over the Your asparagus plants will need plenty of space in the coming years, so space them out to around 45cm (18") apart.
  • Cover the crowns with 5cm (2”) or so of soil and then firm them into position before watering well and then mulching with a final 5cm (2”) of compost.

    Anything else?

    Just remember to mulch your beds with manure or compost in late winter each year. This will help to deter weeds and add in nutrient to the beds for the season ahead.

    Rhubarb

    • Rhubarb crowns are established plants that are at least one year They’ll produce a crop in the first harvest season after planting, which is much sooner than rhubarb plants that are grown from seed.
    • They’re best planted in autumn or spring, while the soil is warm and moist. 

    • If you’ve grown rhubarb in a pot up to now, this can be planted out at any time of the year, as long as the soil’s not frozen, waterlogged or suffering from drought.
    • Rhubarb grows well in a sunny position with moist, well-drained soil, but it will tolerate semi-shade. It doesn’t respond well to disturbance so the place you choose will need to be a permanent home – somewhere your plants can grow without interruption from year-to-year.
    • Prepare the ground by digging in lots of well-rotted It really does LOVE this stuff! Once you’ve done that, spread out the roots in a planting hole that can easily accommodate the spread out roots - and plant so the tip of the crown is just visible above the soil. If you have more than one crown, space them around 75-90cm (30”-36”) apart. Firm the soil around the crown gently and water well.
    • Rhubarb plants have big root systems so they do require a decent amount of space to But if you use a container and it holds a minimum of 40 litres of compost, you’ll be fine. A soil-based compost, John Innes No 3. mixed with plenty of well-rotted manure, for example, is best for growing rhubarb in a container.
    • Rhubarb has a relatively high water content, so it’s important to water regularly during the growing season.