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Asparagus

Asparagus plants from Lubera

Asparagus used to be considered the royal vegetable, as it was only served in the royal courts. Asparagus plants were also praised as medicinal plants in the past.

   
 
   
 

More information about asparagus plants

 

Nowadays, asparagus is above all a healthy, tasty vegetable, which has its peak season in May. Green asparagus grows in almost any soil and, unlike white asparagus, does not need to be mounded up. Asparagus is still rarely found in the home garden. However, if you buy white or green asparagus plants for the garden and cultivate them with a little dedication, you will be delighted - because the aroma and tenderness of the freshly harvested spears are unsurpassable.

 

 

Young asparagus plants in pots from the Lubera garden shop

 

Young asparagus plants are often sold as a root network that has to be planted in the spring. At Lubera, you can buy pre-cultivated asparagus plants in pots and robust, high-yielding asparagus varieties that you can plant in your garden bed all year round. You may want to combine an early green asparagus variety, e.g. ‘VerteVite®’, with the later ‘BlancheVite®’ white asparagus. It is also possible to grow green asparagus in containers. By the way, asparagus plants also have a high decorative value in the garden - their (fake) leaves look very good in colourful bouquets. And the yellow asparagus flowers are extremely attractive to bees and bumblebees.

 

The different varietiesAsparagus plants from Lubera

 

Whether white or green, it is always the same plant - Asparagus officinalis. The basic difference  is this: green asparagus grows above ground (and produces a lot of chlorophyll, which colours it green), white asparagus grows in the ground. White asparagus varieties can therefore also be cultivated as green asparagus. In France, violet white asparagus, white asparagus that changes colour when exposed to sunlight, was popular for a long time. In addition, there are now specially cultivated varieties of green asparagus and purple asparagus - all of which do not require peeling.

Asparagus is a healthy delicacy, whereby green asparagus is richer in vitamins and minerals than the white representative. Purple asparagus, e.g. PurpurVite®, is also considered very healthy. The dark purple colour is due to the high content of anthocyanins - these are highly valued in human nutrition as they are powerful antioxidants. To preserve the attractive colour of the violet asparagus, it is best to prepare it in a pan with oil - if cooked a different way, it will take on a green colour.

 

How does asparagus grow?

 

Asparagus is a perennial whose roots can reach down to one metre. The plant grows bushy, upright with hanging branches. The needle-like branches look like leaves, but they are so-called phyllocladias, or pseudo leaves. As these need relatively little water, asparagus (also due to its long roots) is very well adapted to dry locations. The actual leaves of asparagus are scale-like and inconspicuous.

The above-ground parts of the asparagus turn brown in autumn and then die - only the rootstock hibernates. Already in autumn, the buds can be recognised by this. New shoots form from the buds in the spring, which eventually become asparagus spears.

By the way, asparagus plants can be male, female or hermaphroditic. Only male specimens are used for commercial cultivation, as they are more productive.

 

The suitable location for asparagus

 

Asparagus plants love a warm, sunny and wind-protected location. The soil should be permeable, rich in humus and sufficiently supplied with nutrients. It is very important that the soil is well-rooted even in deeper layers and is not soaked by groundwater. For growing white asparagus, you should have sandy soil if possible - for green asparagus, this can also be heavier (loamier). It may be worthwhile to carry out a soil analysis (from the upper and lower layers), as your asparagus plants will usually remain at the location for many years. The analysis will show you how the soil is supplied with the nutrients phosphate, potassium and magnesium - and also the pH value of the soil (optimally between 5.8 and 6.3). Normally, the humus content of conventional garden soil is sufficient - but if a new bed is to be planted, compost or dung should be added in the previous year if possible.

Oil radish, for example, is suitable as green manure in the year before the asparagus planting, as it develops deep roots and loosens the soil optimally. Oil radish freezes in the winter and can then be undermined in February. 

 

In pots

 

Green and purple asparagus can also be grown very well in pots or tubs. A 10-litre pot is sufficient for a two to three-year-old crop; for long-term asparagus cultivation in a pot a 20+ litre pot is ideal.

 

Planting 

 

As a rule of thumb, ten asparagus plants per consumer should be roughly the same if they are used to prepare main meals.

The optimum planting time for asparagus is from the end of March to mid-April, and in favourable regions from the beginning of March. Planting later in the year is also possible. The soil should already be slightly warmed up when planting - asparagus needs soil temperatures (at the surface) of 12 degrees Celsius to grow optimally.

The optimum planting distance for asparagus is about 40 cm in a row and 1.20 m between rows. It is best to dig a ditch about two spade leaves wide and 30 cm deep. The excavated soil can then be piled up along the ditch. Loosen the soil in the ditch with a spade. It is a good idea to spread a thick layer of well-rotted compost on top of it or to upgrade the soil with compost or green manure as early as autumn. Now place your young asparagus plants in the trench. Place green asparagus about 3 cm below the top edge of the soil, white asparagus 10-20 cm below. The roots of the asparagus are spread out as spider-like as possible. If buds are already visible, please be careful, as these are the starting point for the growth of the asparagus spears. The earth wall for the white asparagus is only heaped up above the rows in the second year of planting.

Further details on planting green and white asparagus can be found in the cultivation instructions below.

 

Care

 

Keep your beds loose and always slightly moist in the summer. In October, cut the asparagus leaves directly at the bottom and remove them from the garden as a precautionary measure to prevent diseases such as asparagus rust that could arise during overwintering.

If you cover your asparagus bed in the spring with a fleece, harvesting can be brought forward by about 14 days and you also prevent possible frost damage. It is important that the spears, which are already sticking out of the ground, are protected from frost on cold nights: Simply place buckets or larger pots over the plants.

 

Fertilising 

 

Asparagus is a heavy eater. It absorbs the nutrients mainly after harvest. Then fertilisation with horn meal is recommended. Compost can also be applied in summer. In late autumn you can spread organic material (dung, bark humus). If you would like to apply mineral fertilisation, you should use an NPK fertiliser after the harvest (in 2 doses), which also contains magnesium, sulphur and trace elements. The roots of the asparagus plant should never come into contact with fertiliser!

 

Harvesting 

 

It is only in the third year that the asparagus reaches its peak - that is something you need to know. In the first year of planting, you should not harvest if possible (possibly 1-3 stems per plant, but it is essential that a few stems can form leaf mass), so that the young plant can establish itself properly with its roots, in the second year you should only cut a small harvest, and in the third year, you can expect a full harvest. The harvest period traditionally ends on 24 June. Then the plant enters the regeneration and growth phase to produce new, strong shoots the following year. If you take good care of your crops, you can harvest asparagus for many years (about 10 standing years can be expected)!

Green asparagus grows out of the soil. Cut the stems one to two centimetres below the surface of the soil. (pole length from 15 to 25 cm) as long as their heads do not open.

You can start harvesting the white asparagus as soon as the first cracks appear on the mound. This is when the shoots get ready to grow out of the soil. So now is the time to get active. The morning right after sunrise and the late afternoon are good times for asparagus pricking. Using a special asparagus knife, you can cut the shoots - after you have uncovered them - carefully and as deeply as possible. Now fill the hole with soil again.

 

As an ornamental plant and bee pasture

 

To increase the decorative value in the garden, you can let the asparagus plants grow unhindered after harvesting. The filigree shoots and leaves, which turn yellow-brown in autumn, form a kind of veil that makes the other plants stand out even more clearly with their colours. If the female plants form red berries, they are not suitable for consumption (slightly poisonous) - but they are very suitable for decorative purposes. Asparagus starts to flower in June and provides insects with a rich supply of nectar and pollen.

 

Mixed cultivation with asparagus plants

 

You can use the space between the rows to plant lettuce, kohlrabi, lettuce, cauliflower, radish, radish or spinach. A bed of strawberries has also been tried and tested and is also very attractive.

 

 

 

 

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