Light requirements: Full sun. Plant asparagus on the west or north side of a garden so the tall plants won’t shade other vegetables in summer.
Planting: Space 12 to 18 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Asparagus needs well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Prepare soil one season to one year before planting (e.g. prep soil in fall for planting the following spring). Work at least 3 inches of organic matter into soil. Asparagus won’t grow in acid soil. Soil pH should be 6.0 to 6.7. Test soil and add lime as needed.
Water requirements: Water new crowns at planting time and during the first growing season if rainfall is scarce. Established asparagus is drought tolerant and usually grows well with rainfall as the sole water source.
Frost-fighting plan: Temperatures below 33ºF can damage asparagus. Cover shoots with a frost blanket to protect from late spring frosts.
Common issues: Bent spears (which are still edible) occur as a result of insect feeding or damage that can occur when cutting other spears. Keep an eye out for weeds. Pests to watch out for include black and red asparagus beetles, and European asparagus aphid (in the Midwest). Asparagus is susceptible to crown and root rots.
Harvesting: Don’t harvest any spears the first growing season and just a few the second. By the third season, you can harvest at will, although picking only a few spears during this season will lead to a greater annual harvest in years to come. Stop harvesting when spear diameter drops to pencil size. Harvest 6- to 8-inch spears in the morning or evening, when air is cool. Snap spears near ground level. Avoid using a knife if possible, as it can spread disease from one plant to another.
Storage: Refrigerate spears in a loosely closed plastic bag for up to 14 to 21 days.
For more information, visit the Asparagus page in our How to Grow section.