Q – I want to start my own aparagus bed like my grandfather had but the plants are expensive, can I grow good quality asparagus from seed?

A – You can certainly grow good asparagus from seeds but you will not be able to get the real benefit of your asparagus bed for three to four years. However it is a much cheaper way of doing it than buying crowns and if you are a patient gardener it is well worth the wait. You can probably cut a handful of small spears in the second year just for a taste but in the main your asparagus would not be of real edible quality until the fourth year after planting the seeds. This said from then on asparagus harvesting gets better each year.

It is very important though that you understand how to pick asparagus to ensure the lifespan of your asparagus bed. If you overcut the spears for more than a month during the first few years of growth you can weaken and sometimes even kill the plants as it is vital to leave enough spears to grow on into the tall asparagus fern that feeds the plants until the autumn when they may then be cut down and tidied up ready for the following season.

 Harvesting normally commences as soon as the first stems are roughly five to eight inches long and as fat as a finger, but width will vary between male to female plants. Cut the spears cleanly with a sharp knife just below the ground surface at the closest attachment point to the fibrous roots. Do be very careful not to tread on and damage young spears which have not yet broken through the ground.