The time to plant asparagus crowns is now. Get it right and you could be harvesting your own crop of asparagus for the next 20 years. Monty Don explains how to choose the right spot and how to plant and care for asparagus ferns to ensure a good crop for years to come. See: Kitchen garden ideas – easy ways to get started In his guide to planting asparagus crowns (opens in new tab)  on Gardeners’ World, Monty Don says that growing asparagus ‘is a long-term relationship, so it’s worth doing it properly, and the key to growing asparagus is drainage, and then some more drainage’. The TV gardening guru explains how to prepare the ground in an open, sunny site to plant bare root asparagus crowns.  See: How to grow potatoes – a step-by-step guide

Preparing the ground for planting asparagus

1. Dig a trench

First dig a 3ft/1m wide trench, before digging over the bottom of the trench and filling it with as much sharp sand or horticultural grit as you can get your hands on. In fact, Monty Don used more than 10 bags of grit for a trench approximately 18ft/6m long. ‘You really can’t have too much drainage’ he explains.

2. Add a layer of compost and grit

Pile in plenty of rich garden compost or well rotted manure, mixing it thoroughly with the grit. Rake the ground smooth, then create two raised ridges. This is where you will plant the asparagus crowns. 

3. Plant asparagus crowns

Monty Don plants one-year-old asparagus crowns, which are essentially a bunch of dry-looking roots with a shoot at the top. He advises soaking the crowns to rehydrate the roots before planting. 

4. Backfill and check back

Drape the roots either side of the ridge to ensure good drainage, before covering the crowns with around 4-6 inches below the soil. Check from time to time that the crowns are still well covered, adding extra compost on top as required.

See: Companion planting – your ultimate guide

Growing asparagus – tips on being patient

Here’s where the patience comes in: you won’t be able to harvest your asparagus in the first year, and in the second year just a few cuttings, the third year a few more and by the fourth year the plant will be fully established, and, as Monty Don puts it, you can ‘gorge yourself’! See: How to grow garlic – a step by step guide to growing from cloves Once your asparagus is established you should be able to pick from April or May until the end of June. Stop picking in June to allow the plant to produce its distinctive feathery leaves which help the plant to rejuvenate and store enough energy for a good crop the following spring.