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Asparagus from Seed

Which Seed Variety?

Asparagus plants are either female or male. The female plants produce berries whereas the males don't. Producing berries requires extra effort from the plant and the crop from a female plant is therefore not as good as the crop from a male plant.

Some varieties of seed produce male and female asparagus, whereas some produce only males. A good all-male variety is Jersey Knight Improved. A good more traditional female and male variety is Martha Washington. We would opt for the all-male seeds.

Prepare the Seed Bed

Asparagus is raised in a seed bed for one year and then transplanted to their final position the next year. For the seed bed, the soil must be free-draining, preferably in full sun and not in a frost pocket.

In September, dig the soil to a spade's depth and incorporate as much well-rotted compost as possible, remove any weeds. The time to sow the seeds is mid-April. Soak the seeds in water for 2 hours before sowing, this will help the germination process considerably. Sow the seed thinly in rows to a depth of about 5cm (2in). The rows should be 30cm (12in) apart. Water well if the conditions are dry.

The seedlings will emerge in about 3 weeks time. As soon as they are large enough, thin the seedlings to about 5cm (2in) apart. When the seedlings reach 15cm (6in) high thin them to 30cm (1ft) apart. For the rest of the year keep the plants weeded and well-watered.

If you have bought seed with female and male plants, remove any female ones as soon as you see them produce berries. In mid-April the plants should be carefully dug up and transplanted to their final positions. See the main article for how to plant and grow one year old asparagus crowns.