ASPARAGUS ARGENTEUIL ~ tasty, tender tips early in the season 20 seeds SOW: late winter to early spring in modules with warmth (13-16ºC) or in mid to late spring in a nursery bed (2.5cm deep). GROW: Make sure your new permanent asparagus bed is weed free and dig in well rotted organic matter before planting up. If your soil has poor drainage then consider using a raised bed. Harden off your seedlings and plant in their permanent position in early summer – plant on the flat. Argenteuil may give a light cut in the second year if growth is vigorous; look forward to steady cropping from the year after that – stop harvesting in mid summer to allow plants to recover. LONG TERM CARE: Asparagus can be productive for 20 years. At the end of the season cut back stems to 10cm above the ground. Mulch with well rotted manure or compost in the autumn to help suppress weeds. Apply a general fertiliser early in spring. In an exposed garden cover the bed with ferns or straw over the winter. Only blanche established plants, alternate from year to year. At the first sign of tips emerging cover with a bucket or forcer, uncover after cutting the pale tips.