Growing asparagus is a test of your tolerance of delayed gratification. New plants cannot be harvested for at least three years, and the real crop production begins in about five years. Planting asparagus is an investment in time and garden space that will pay off in the long term with a wonderful spring harvest of the tasty spears. Because the tall, feathery asparagus plants are decorative, you can enjoy them even before you have spears to harvest.
Select a sunny area against a fence or behind your vegetable garden. Spots such as these are ideal because the plants are tall.
Prepare your planting bed for asparagus in the fall. Use your shovel, hoe and rake to work the soil. Dig a trench about 1 foot wide and 10 to 12 inches deep. Mix compost with the existing soil to form a loose, rich mixture for the plants. Water and allow the bed to drain. In mild winter climates, crowns should be placed in the ground in the fall.
Loosen the prepared soil and add fresh compost in the spring if you live in areas with cold winters. Place the asparagus crowns in the trench, spreading the roots carefully and cover with good planting soil. As the plants grow, add more soil until the trench is filled.
Add compost to the soil each spring and cover with mulch to maintain soil moisture once the plants are established. Asparagus does not need to be watered frequently. Weekly water should be enough. Keep a 3-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil.
Let the all the spears develop into ferns for the first two years. Harvest during the third year and every year thereafter in the spring (April to June depending on your growing zone), making sure to leave the last spears to develop into ferns so the plant can prepare for next year's harvest. Apply compost after harvest to enrich the soil and feed the plants for summer growth.