Asparagus Terraces


Planting asparagus was one of our priorities when establishing our food systems on the homestead. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that comes back on its own every spring. The shoots called spears are harvested for 6-8 weeks and are one of the first vegetables that can be harvested in this part of South Dakota.

Asparagus plants can live for up to 20 years. There is already a smaller asparagus patch growing in the garden, planted by the previous owners Ken and Peggy, but it is approaching the end of its natural lifespan. We wanted to get some new asparagus going because you have to wait 2-3 years after planting before you should start harvesting. So we needed to get started…

In 2017 we started building up the soil using cover crops. These before and after shots show a method called chop and drop: where we essentially mow down the cover crop and let it decompose in place.

Want to learn more about our methods?
A cover crop is a plant that is used to prevent erosion, add organic matter to the soil, and smother weeds.

In April 2021 the site was finally ready to be planted. The site is on a slight hill so first we built terraces using log rounds as retaining walls.

We then dug trenches where we planted 1 year old roots known as crowns.

By that summer, the asparagus “ferns” were already coming up. We are hoping to harvest our first spears from these terraces in 2024.

Click below to watch a timelapse video of the asparagus terrace site from 2017 to the present.