Asparagus – no dig, planted in mulch over weeds, how to grow and harvest

Filmed in summer of asparagus year 6 after a third season of harvests, this year 2018 we picked 15.5kg/34lb of spears. The asparagus plants are growing on level ground with no ridges, easier for weeding because very few grow. We are a zone 8, temperate climate with around 800mm/32in rain per annum. My garden includes 1000sqm of no dig beds (a quarter acre), growing salad leaves and some vegetables for sale.

27 thoughts on “Asparagus – no dig, planted in mulch over weeds, how to grow and harvest

  1. This all sounds very organised. My asparagus bed escaped – that is to say it has been over whelmed by docks, thistles ,nettles and especially large bindweed. So we now mow it. Asparagus marked by canes and then mowed round. They are amazingly tough plants. If not they would never survive on sandy beaches. And although unorthodox the system works very well.

  2. Thank you for the information, video and replies to the comments. I haven’t got any questions to ask now! I’ve potted my asparagus seedlings after starting them as plugs. Just got to make a bed and keep them alive til Spring! Loving the no dig theory – bed prep starts this year, planting the next.

  3. Hi Charles. I can get a few 4 years old asparagus plants from a friend. Would it be possible to use the cardboard and mulch for a new bed with mature plants like this? Apparently spears would be available for picking next year. All blessings and thanks for all you contribute for those of us who love to garden in harmony and simplicity 🙂

    1. Thanks Cheryl, and that can work to grow it, but I would allow it to establish another year before first picks in spring 2022.

  4. Hi Charles, I just ordered some asparagus seeds and I’m planning to plant them in modules once they arrive. Then they will continue to grow in a polytunnel under they can be planted out in April/ May next year. Would they survive the winter in an unheated polytunnel or should we over-winter them in the house. There’s quite a lot of seeds – about 50. If not, what would be your recommendation? I live in Fife, Scotland.

    1. All fine and they survive outside although in pots which may freeze solid perhaps not. Fine once in the ground. Keep in a shed even, over winter.

  5. Hi Charles. Am so impressed with no dig I have been following your channel and was moved to grow asparagus from seed this year from spring sowing, but unsure when to prick out and plant them out. How big they should be to separate?, and what is the best time of year and size to plant out?. They are 7-8 inches but I only hear about 1 year crowns wondering when to out them outside… it’s late may 2020. All the best.

    1. Nice to hear Rosi.
      I pricked mine as seedlings in April to modules, then to pots about now. Planted following February-March.
      Means ground is free this year to weed or grow, and watering is easier.
      Pot into large pots say 4in-10cm wide in July.

  6. Hi Charles, I am going to try growing asparagus from seed. Wondering if you have done this before? Can I plant them in one pot and then prick them out into individual pots when big enough? Or do they do better planting an individual seed in their own pot? Thanks so much! I absolutely love watching your videos!

  7. Hi Charles,
    Wonder if you can clarify about cardboard mulch under asparagus bed. I have couch grass around but the ground is clear at the moment, it was killed off with weedkiller by an over zealous friend. I can put 6inches or more of bed filling, 5year old animal manure and compost etc onto the space
    Should I put a base layer of cardboard in to stop the couch grass coming through or just plant my crowns in the compost.
    I will put cardboard around the edge and mulch with wood chip to keep the paths clear

    1. Lorna I expect the couch roots are still alive, so cardboard (then wetted since it’s summer) then s little compost then crowns then say 3-4in compost above crowns will be good.

  8. Hi. I wondered if once the asparagus was finished for the season, if I could grow another surface crop in the asparagus bed.

    1. No Claire, because the asparagus needs then to grow full size ferns, to feed the roots. There will be little spare light or moisture.

  9. hi charles, Thanks for all your gardening help! I just finished your online gardening course and Im super excited to start he next one!! Im starting asparagus from seed today and was wondering about module sowing (a few seeds in each cell) or maybe sowing in a tray and pricking out one plant per cell. which is best? I live in ZONE 7A (petersburg Alaska) and we are right on the water which keeps as a little warmer but being that we live so far north our daylight is what has me wondering about sowing dates. Ive been copying yours but i was hoping for suggestions? we have dark winters (January and February its dark by 3 pm and light by 9 or 10 am) but in the summers sun set is sometimes 11pm and sunrise its 4 am. if you were me how would you change your sowing dates?

    1. Hello Chelsea, nice to read your feedback and have news of distant Alaska.
      Your light levels are similar to Scotland, where I worked in 1981. Great in summer at least!
      I would sow just a week or two later now in February through March, then same time April through to end June, then a week earlier in summer and two weeks earlier September.
      After doing that for a year you can fine tune dates – everybody has microclimate aspects, such as your proximity to water.
      You should find row covers/fleece very useful in early spring, to convert light into warmth. I wish you well.

    2. Forgot to mention asparagus – if expensive hybrid seed, sow in tray to prick out. If cheaper seed you could sow 2-3 per cell then thin to one.

  10. Great Video Charles.
    I live in a zone 5-6 . in Canada. I was wondering if just 3 or 4 inch hollow would be enough protection from the hot summer sun and the cold winters that we have here. I understand that a top up of compost would be added in the fall . Should my Crowns be planted deeper because of my climate?
    Last summer temperatures were around 30 C for most of the summer and winters can be colder than -20 C for several weeks.
    Also just wondering how to be able to tell if the crowns that I purchase are males?
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hello Nancy, thanks, and crowns can’t go too deep for fear of weakening new shoots so yes, add just one inch to planting depth, and I would try a mulch of straw in winter, perhaps summer also, applied after the picking season, which for you should be May-June. Summer growth could ne through the mulch.
      I don’t know of a way of checking crowns for sex!

      1. Hi Charles
        Thanks for the quick response and the advice.
        I will plant them today,
        Love your web cite and all your videos.
        Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  11. Could you please advise how you plant your asparagus. Most conventional advice involves digging trenches etc, but I’m assuming with no dig you wouldn’t be doing this:)
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Daisy and no trenches needed, just pull out a 3-4in/8-10cm deep hollow in the surface compost and soil, see also my Asparagus video

  12. Thanks again Charles, though this is a first thank you. I have been following your site and advice for a couple of years. After organic gardening for 40 years your short piece on BBC excited me to try 2 small beds on our lawn. Ureka! It worked and I now also have 2 allotments and a walled garden under no dig cultivation. Looking forward to an extended gardening life. Thanks again. Chas

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