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help me form a guild plan including asparagus

 
Leah Sattler
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pretty please really a whole perrenial bed. it can't be too expansive or expensive as this will be thrown together asap when I move. I plan on ordering 40 asparagus plants. what should I put with them? I am thinking I would like something to help suppress grassy weeds. I want the asparagus to be my primary harvest but others stuff would be great as long as it doesn't compete with teh asparagus.
 
Brenda Groth
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well one plant that I do know that is recommended to plant with asparagus is tomatoes..also cosmos and hollyhocks are good if you want plants that will attract pollinators, remember asparagus loves manure
 
Leah Sattler
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That sure is true about the manure! My previous asparagus bed went crazy when I spent all winter throwing the horse manure I cleaned up from the pasture onto it (not even composted).  I know that is one possible challenge in finding companions for it. I want to be able to let it have what it wants and I have plenty of manure compost to give it. I was hoping to put together a half wild, perrenial and self seeding area.
 
Brenda Groth
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i've also heard that herbs like basil would do well..but since they obviously grow well with tomatoes that just makes since since tomatos like asparagus..I just ordered some new roots for my garden..i have a small patch of asparagus, but used to share with my MIL who had a larger one next door, but sold her place after her death and the new owners might not like me eating theirs..so i'm planting a bigger crop of my own
 
Susan Monroe
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Nitrogen fixer
Mulch
Insectiary
Pest repellant
Ground cover
Accumulator

It is said that asparagus doesn't like to be crowded or have their roots disturbed, so you probably can't use anything that requires pulling.

For a nitrogen fixer that won't disturb the roots, maybe something like clover would do.  And it would also work as a mulch, although mine has never really suppressed weeds.

Mostly you want male plants, so unless you have female plants and want to produce seeds (which takes strength from the roots), you shouldn't need anything for beneficial insects.

Asparagus pests are Asparagus beetles, European asparagus aphid, Armyworm, Cutworms, Thrips and Garden Symphylans.  Tansy (the yellow button type) is said to discourage cutworms, tomatoes, basil and calendula repel asparagus beetles, sunflowers repel armyworms, fungus in mulch may help control symphylans, sweet marjoram may repel thrips, and aphids don't like garlic/onions.  While it would probably be inadvisable to interplant any of these with asparagus, perhaps a mixture of them would make a nice repellent border around the bed.

Yarrow is an accumulator nitrogen, phosphorus and copper, so if you had some growing nearby, you could harvest it and just toss it onto the soil among the asparagus.  Tree leaves are also a source of micronutrients, so a good mulch of them (maybe shredded?) among the clover would provide more nutrients.

I just don't think that you really need to interplant guild plants for them to be effective.  Of course, I may be wrong.  But if they do need to be interplanted, and asparagus doesn't like competition, they might be counterproductive, and otherwise pointless.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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Susan Monroe wrote:

I just don't think that you really need to interplant guild plants for them to be effective.  Of course, I may be wrong.  But if they do need to be interplanted, and asparagus doesn't like competition, they might be counterproductive, and otherwise pointless.

Sue


your right it might not be something that is even worth it. I know from past experience that keeping the bermuda grass out of the asparagus is difficult I was at least thinking that I would try to plant something that might suppress the bermuda and at least not hurt the asparagus.

I just looked up walking onions to investigate them as a possibility and the first site that came up was named this

http://www.asparagusgardener.com/asparaguswalkingonions.html

is that some kinda sign? 
 
Susan Monroe
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One plant that is supposed to be quite allelopathic is sunflowers.  I wonder if planting a short variety around the asparagus bed would keep the grass from encroaching?

Hmmm.... I should try that.

Sue
 
Kelda Miller
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Great topic!
I've been wondering the same thing myself.

There's a bundle of asparagus that came up 'by itself' under the apple tree, so I'm planning on expanding it. BUT, I have yet to see this asparagus in the springtime and see how healthy the shoots are. It is shaded all summer, but that may not Matter since it comes on before the leaves. I just wonder if it's wimpy or not.

I'll let you guys know. If it works well it might be a great understory plant for a food forest, or, what I think of as ''what can I grow in all this shade??"

ALSO: a neighbor has a Huge patch of asparagus. I figure I can ask her pretty one day, and divide some of those up to replant right?
 
Leah Sattler
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thats a great idea sue! then I won't have to worry about actually interplanting something that would compete with the asparagus I can just use plants that will prevent the encroachment of the bermuda.  I think I'll make that a plan.
 
                    
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Hi!  This is my first post in these forums, glad I found them!

I have a guild of mature Thompson seedless grapes (that shade the west wall of my house) with asparagus and white clover at the base.  This has been established for three years now, and is doing well. The grapes root so deeply there is no competition with the asparagus.

So far, the asparagus has no problem pushing through the clover, but I think I'd look into strawberry clover instead of white, if I were to do it again.

I was able to harvest some of the asparagus last year, and it was great!  I've just bought a few crowns to fill in some gaps in the row, being greedy.

Last fall I added garlic and oyster mushrooms to the mix, and have some yarrow to transplant nearby, as well.

 
Leah Sattler
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welcome beki! and thanks for the input! why the strawberry over the white clover?
 
                    
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I've been told (haven't grown it yet meself) that strawberry (not crimson) clover is perennial but doesn't run the way the white clovers do: it's not as invasive, a bit more well-behaved, if you will. 
 
Leah Sattler
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oh! hmmm since its basically an invasive species that i want to keep out of my asparagus maybe I want to counter with an invasive species!
 
Susan Monroe
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I am visualizing Leah instigating a Weed Fight of the Perennials.  Here's hoping the best one wins!

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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'war of the weeds' ....an epic novel...... 
 
Susan Monroe
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"War of the Weeds", an epic novel by noted authority Leah H. 

Drama, suspense and sex in the ongoing battle between good and evil.  Read how encroaching varieties take over the very existence of harmless, productive plant communities!

Soon to be in a permie bookstore near you!



Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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you made be spew spinach salad all over my key board I get to pick bits of partially masticated spinach out from between my keys now.   
 
Susan Monroe
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(modestly) I do what I can!   

Sue
 
Dave Boehnlein
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We've been working to establish parsley amongst our asparagus. It grows without much attention and shades the ground between the crowns. Since it self seeds we don't have to do much planting, either. This year perhaps we'll plant more in our asparagus beds.

Dave
 
Brenda Groth
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Ok well i have an established asparagus patch and just put ..near it..another 23 asparagus crowns..

i've been watching this post with baited breath..and laughing..

I wasn't sure what you did conclude about the walking onions..as i have some on order..

I do understand that you don't want to plant anything in the asparagus that you have to DIG..as you could damage the crowns..that makes sense..but the onions you don't really DIG..you more or less pull..so would that be a problem?

i have been working on this OLD asparagus patch a little at a time..it has had some really imbedded weeds and I have been tackling them in small amounts..and would like to get the proper things growing under them..really don't want to mess too much with ANNUAL items that have to be replanted..and I totally understand not crowding the asparagus..so i'm still not sure what i want to do with the rest of the patch..as i revive it.

the new is in..about the only thing besides fruit trees i could plant between snowstorms here in Michigan but it is in

I HAD thought about sunflowers..but as I said..they are annual here.

still gotta think..not like I don't have time..also this crop is growing in an orchard that is a mixture of perennial vegetables and fruits and nuts..but the asparagus is basically on its own other than a baby paw paw tree nearby and a pecan seedling..or two fairly close..
 
                            
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So I was going to say walking onions because they will basically keep reseeding themselves.  Also, sunflowers would be my next bet because they have such shallow roots, they wouldn't interfere with the asparagus crowns and they would help keep down the weeds.  That what we do in our tomatoes.

For a self-seeding tomato, I'm going to DEFINITELY point you to an heirloom called the Mexican Midget.  We grew this last year and it is already throwing up volunteers and it's only the end of April.  Even the site we bought the seeds from said you wouldn't have to sew these seeds ever again once you had one plant.  Just a thought…

Oh yeah… and our sunflowers come back every year… Seems like the seeds just keep coming up in the same spot.  Love 'em for that!  And the little birds they attract are great at keeping our other pests away!
 
                            
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I found a description of a guild that included asparagus in a ring at the drip line of a tree.  It was in the shade planting section of greenhousebed.com. 

Based partly on their success, I'm planning to put my asparagus bed (spring 2010) in a space between two almond trees that should reach a height of no more than 15 feet.  The two trees are about 30 feet apart and are offset so that the asparagus bed runs roughly E-W, with one tree south of it just west of the midpoint, and the other tree is north of the bed, near the east edge. 

Any suggestions for filling in the rest of the space between the trees?  There is a small patch of lovage and hyssop just south of the proposed bed, at the west end, and thimbleberry started south of that, but there is a lot of ground that I currently have sheetmulched and unplanned.

Patricia
of Sunrise Corner
 
Jennifer Smith
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what a neat place!

greenhousebed.com. 

 
                    
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im rooting around in here and having a blast- ill try not to disturb any crowns

I dont know thing one about asparagus. my mo used to grow some in a compost heap that had housescarps, yard greens and goat and pig manure in it. she built a new compost and put the asparagus in it and they shot up great for 6 years or so before my folks kinda got bilindsided by health issues.

So the asparagus died (under a beautiful damascus rose, so not a complete loss)...

I tried to start a half a dozen crowns and had read that one should adjust acid soils, which I have... so I followed lime use instructions, with 8 inches rich compost over double dug soil...

and they feathered on year one and two, the died half way through the season. just turned brown and fell over in 2-3 weeks flat.

I'd love feedback; its one of the only plants I love to eat that I havent had any good conversations with, so should visit a healthy patch and talk, but would love your questions and thoughts in the meanwhile.

thanks for all the great info above!

Deston
 
Jennifer Smith
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Asparagus is a fave of mine so I plan a lot of it and have planted much in many places in my lifetime. 

I read somewhere that with your crowns you should plant seeds to so as to get a great bed, yet get a harvest asap. 

I have some seed started plants in pots and found another packet of "Martha Washington" seed from baker Creek...yes I am already inventorying my seed for spring.
 
Erica Wisner
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OK, this is a total shot in the dark, but I keep thinking of how happy my grandmother's mint was in manure.  It's at its scraggliest in the spring, and I think asparagus is tall enough to not be shaded out by it in the summer.

I don't remember grasses ever taking hold in our mint patches, and I wouldn't be surprised if its strong oils are repressive to other weeds.  But the mint itself can spread and would prefer sun.
 
Isawela Yonah
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Couple of things-Destin, you probably had some kind of moles or underground pest...I had parsley do that one year, every one just died. It finally dawned on me to pull one up-no roots!

Re. the asparagus, we started seeds two years ago, so will be ready to plant next spring, in an area where we are also going to plant blueberries, and we have a few trees along the north side (nut pine, ginko, etc.)

I was thinking about St. John's wort as a ground cover, and maybe pennyroyal.
I live in GA and they grow like MAD here, plus stay very low, and take a little walking on once established. THe St. John's has yellow flowers in summer and the pennyroyal should stink out lots of stuff...But I like the idea of clover too...I want to use red, because I harvest it and drink it in tea.
Thanks for the info about not putting any root crops around the asparagus, I didn't think of that, but, makes sense.
We do have a lot of green onions in our garden-we get them from those thrown out at the stores-if they still have roots, you just plunk them in the ground...and I think those would do well, since my husband is very adamant that we use the greens and not PULL the onion-that way it's perennial.
Maybe a gentle small vine would work too..we have jiaogulan that dies back each winter, and would climb the asparagus ferns in the summer..(if we don't eat them in the spring...)

Nice topic-glad to find these forums!
Peace, Isabel
 
Jennifer Smith
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I read somewhere to plant seeds with your crowns and I am planning to do so. 

I am growing a bunch from seed in pots and had an amazing germination.  I just keep planting them and they just keep growing.

Love the stuff.
 
Leah Sattler
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jennifer - I'm glad to hear you have had success with seed so far. my asparagus has finally be completely done in for the year by cold. your success will help motivate me to go retrieve some seeds so that I can start some more. I would love to get to a point where I had enough asparagus to freeze and eat throughout the year. as it stands I doubt I will have enough to do more then give me a tasty treat in the spring.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Mine turned gold a while back and I dumped a load of manure on it to put it to bed for the year.  It is still in pots and I wonder if I should have put it in the garage instead the beds... we will see.  I will grow plenty more.  It is 6 degrees here this morning...

What are you growing in with your asparagus?  I plant to try it in just about every permanant bed I make.
 
Isawela Yonah
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You know, y'all just made me think of something...thinking that asparagus likes manure...
at some points during the year when it is not close to eating time, I am guessing that it would also like pee.
Yes, pee. I hope you all know about pee and humanure and how fond we permies are of the stuff.
If you cut the urine 1:5 with water, it should make great fertilizer and perhaps be easier to apply than loads of manure.....
not sure if anyone does humanure on asparagus...guess you could apply it in the summer so it would be 10-11 months before you eat it.
Really, it's not gross once you know the science.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I read somewhere that dormant asparagus crowns are almost never burnt by fertilizer. If that source is correct, you wouldn't need to dilute for at least part of the year.
 
                              
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I don't think I would support pouring lots of urine on dormant plants.  Too much could simply escape through the soil to the ground water.  Better to use urine on actively growing plants that will appreciate a drink of strong liquid fertilizer.  (Some plants can take rather strong mix of urine with water while others need it more dilute.  Banana and bamboo I will sometimes dose with a 50% urine 50% water mix, comfrey is another that can take strong urine mix.)

As to the humanure, properly composted humanure should be fine to spread on the garden whenever you want since it should already have aged for a year after the last addition of fresh materials.  If you are not as confident in your compost management, then wait till after the spring harvest to apply the humanure compost to the asparagus bed.

Now if you want perennial sunflowers, try sun chokes (they are perennial through a very wide range of zones.)  But I would not plant them with the asparagus since the roots would interfere with the asparagus.
 
Jennifer Smith
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TCLynx wrote:
Now if you want perennial sunflowers, try sun chokes (they are perennial through a very wide range of zones.) But I would not plant them with the asparagus since the roots would interfere with the asparagus.

do they make seed for birds/chickens?
 
                              
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Well, sun chokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) are basically a relative of the sun flower but they have big nobly edible roots.  They also have seeds but the flowers are quite small and the seeds are nothing special.  The Flowers and tops of the plants here in FL seems to be of very short duration.  I had been expecting a wall of plants out of them but the tops seems to die back quite quickly here though they do come back.  Apparently once you plant them, you are never likely to completely get rid of them again.
 
                          
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Asparagus helpers - Aster family flowers, Dill, Coriander, Tomatoes, Basil, Comfry, Marigolds

Avoid - Onion, Garlic, Potatoes
 
Jennifer Smith
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Bird wrote:
Avoid - Onion, Garlic, Potatoes

I guess excluding walking onions or evergreen onions?
 
                          
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Hi Jennifer

Meaning the digging kind
 
Travis Philp
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A question for anyone who posted guild lists on this thread:

What spacings are you using between the asparagus and other plants?


Something that has worked for me with asparagus and keeping weeds (switch grass) down is throwing down 6-8 inches of leaves and dried/dead weeds over top of the asparagus bed in the fall. It is a lot of biomass but it works for two or three seasons as a broadscale suppressant, and theres no need to remove it in the spring as the asparagus comes right up through. You can also get blanched spears if you catch them early enough.

If any weeds come up in close proximity to the asparagus I just pull them up and toss more leaves down.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I agree with the idea that polyculture doesn't have to mean that everything is interplanted.  I would try to have minimum interplanting in the asparagus bed, I like the clover idea, as it rebounds from mulching, and clover-mulch-clover over time would result in pulses of nitrogen from the clover, a fall leaf mulch on top of the clover, but not enough to kill, might be a nice pattern.  I'd grow a mulch crop right nearby, something you can cut and apply like Rumex (sorrel) or maybe comfrey.  Maybe a tap rooted biennial friend like some of the carrot family weeds mentioned above.  I'd worry about importing horse manure raw, just because of the weed seeds... sounds like make-work.  I would place the patch where you don't have to defend an edge against grass migration.

Nice discussion.
 
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