Can you harvest asparagus in a year?

Tiffany Daneff / 23 May 2014

Yes, if you grow Gijnlim, writes Saga Magazine's gardening editor and sheep garden blogger, Tiffany Daneff.

Even if we get more of this wonderful rain followed by sun and then more rain and more sun, my brassicas are never going to end up looking anything like those whoppers on the South West in Bloom garden at Chelsea, which so deserved its gold medal.  Still, they are not doing at all badly.

But nothing makes me happier than the fact that all 10 asparagus crowns planted earlier this year have finally shooted.

I had quite forgotten that I had ordered any, all that time ago at the start of last winter.  So when the post lady delivered the box some weeks back, my heart sank as yet one more job was tacked to the bottom of an already illegible yellow post it note on which was scratched the terrifying list of Things That Must Be Done.

There’s not much point growing asparagus unless you have space for 30 crowns, says Val Bourne, in her ever helpful The Ten Minute Gardener’s Vegetable-Growing Diary, and time as they take a couple of years before you can harvest.  But Dobies do one year old Gijnlim crowns which are high yielding (25% higher) and, they say, can be picked a year after planting.  It was too tempting not to try.

Asparagus, I learned, are river bankers.  In an ideal world they might settle themselves along the sides of the Thames or the Severn, where the soil is light and silty and drains well.  Not lovers of heavy clay then, which is what I have here.   They also wanted to be planted ASAP.  It was the S that caused the most trouble because it had been raining for days and the ground was beyond claggy and according to the books I needed to dig them some pretty substantial trenches.

I waited a couple of days – tucking the fragile crowns into a bed of damp potting compost so that they didn’t dry out.  Most important, said the instructions from Dobies.

But the rain kept on raining and in the end I gave in, deciding it was better to get them in the ground even if that meant digging trenches in sticky clay.  It took hours. I got soaked and the spade was so heavy my arms ached, I pulled my shoulder, and nearly wept with the frustration.  But I dug my eight inch deep trenches and then built the requisite four-inch mounds of gravel over which I spread the strange starfish-like crowns.  Weird things, asparagus.  They look almost animal.  And then I backfilled with that hateful lumpy clay.  For some reason this area of the vegetable garden turned out to be clay-ier than most. 

Sod, being what he is, it was dry for the next fortnight, when what we all needed, I and the asparagus, was rain.  So for days I heaved across buckets of water (as we have yet to get an outdoor tap installed) making my shoulders hurt even more.

Nothing. Not a sign of life from below ground.  The guilt twisted its rusty blade as I cursed myself for not having done the job properly.  If only I hadn’t dug when the ground was wet; if only it had rained afterwards.

Then, one day, some weeks on after a little rain had fallen, I spotted a single dark green spear, thin as a pencil.   One had made it through the clay crust.  This was a small victory, but a victory never the less.  

A few days later a second spear shot through, then another.  By yesterday they were all up and my happiness is complete.

Roll on spring 2015 and the first tasting.

Browse our collection of asparagus recipes

Tiffany Daneff is also the editor of the award-winning intoGardens app - the world's first magazine app for gardens. Visit the appstore to download a free sample or go to the website for more information. Gardening has never looked better or been more exciting. Visit for more info. 

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