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Asparagus permaculture way

 
Richard Gorny
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: Poland, zone 5
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I'm planning to plant approx. 20 asparagus crowns in a sandy soil, on south facing hillside. Traditional way of cultivation here is to plow very, very deep (up to 60 cm) and adding huge amounts of manure a year before planting. Lots of lime is being used as well. I do not want to create dense asparagus bed, I'd rather prefer to scatter them all over, to create impression of "wild" plants. Shall I dig the soil deeply then in places where I plan to plant crowns? Or to plant shallow and mulch heavily? Does anyone uses woodchips mulch for asparagus beds, if yes, how do they like it?
 
Debbie Sauerteig
Posts: 22
Location: Ontario, Canada. zone 5 continental cold temperate
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Hi Richard,
How unfortunate that no one has answered your question!

I don't know the answer. My reply is that I am trying both methods in my garden. I live in a suburb in Ontario Canada, hardiness zone 5.

We have planted asparagus along the south side of a wooden north fence, just here and there, interspersed amongst shrubs and perennials.
We have also alloted a bed on the west side of the house, about 6X6 feet just for strawberries and asparagus.

I am about to transplant more plants that were along the wooden north fence, all together in a narrow bed 18" x 15 feet to a new bed in the middle of our yard which is about 2 feet x 12 feet.

I have discovered so far (after only one season) that the individual plants are very hard to find for harvesting at the appropriate time.
My fiddleheads will be easier to find because they are not so hidden by shrubs!

Please let me know what you have tried and what the results for you were!
Debbie
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 381
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I put off planting asparagus for years because of the deep digging and heavy dose of manure recommended. But they grow wild with no care here, so I finally just planted them in tilled garden soil. They've done great. Mine are in rows but I think they'd look great in clumps maybe 2'-3' diameter. I'd dig deep if you can, but it's not essential. I only planted 4" deep and didn't mulch. A few years later I got a lot of free mulch from trees the city ground up. The asparagus liked the mulch but it introduced a really bad weed. Think it's Johnsongrass. 5' tall and very hard to get rid of. I think straw mulch maybe with some manure would work great
 
Richard Gorny
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: Poland, zone 5
44
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Thanks for your replies. Well, I have changed my plans and instead of doing what I was asking about, I have made a new no-dig bed for asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. The crows are under a feet of mulch, composed of fallen leaves, hay straw, woodchips and a bit of compost. It is their first year here, so all I can say is that they are growing. In a year or two we will see if they will become productive.
 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 428
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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I've found that if I forget to check asparagus in the early spring to catch the first shoots to eat, it turns to ferns really quickly. So if you are going to spread them around don't let them be too far out of sight, maybe someplace you walk by often on the way to the faucet, or near the compost pile, so you don't have to go off the beaten path and make a big circuitous route to keep track of them. There's lots going on the spring and for me, if it's out of sight, it's out of mind if a week or two gets really busy.

And then try to plant in some kind of grid or pattern even though they are far apart, so you don't forget where that 12th and 15th ones were. Or plant then with a daffodil bulb, and when those start blooming in the spring you've got a little yellow flag where each one is. Daffodils also keep the gophers away. If you have a big gopher problem you'd need at least 4 bulbs per asparagus plant.

I have clay soil, which holds moisture, and they do very well with little attention as long as they are mulched heavily. So if you have sandy soil they might need more watering, unless you get enough rain.
 
Jim Thomas
Posts: 57
Location: SC; Zone 7B
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I planted some this year very shallowly in clay soil, with a thin layer of better soil and then a thin layer of mulch over that. They grew well, but I won't really know if they will survive and be productive until next year.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3766
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Debbie, thanks for bringing this thread back to the top and answering the question! An apple for you, for that !
 
Aaron Festa
Posts: 149
Location: Connecticut
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I started from seed 3 yrs ago. Next spring I plan to add earth pea as a companion plant. Said to fix nitrogen and provide mulch layer. Ground bean another option.
 
Debbie Sauerteig
Posts: 22
Location: Ontario, Canada. zone 5 continental cold temperate
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Cristo Balete, that idea about planting daffodils beside them to "flag" the asparagus sounds like a great idea! It's bulb-planting time right now, so I'm going to look for my individual asparagi and plant the daffs in front! And to make this an even more enjoyable event, the weather will be warm this week! Not the usual weather for November in Ontario!!!
 
Marianne Cicala
gardener
Posts: 660
Location: south central VA 7B
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Richard Gorny wrote:Thanks for your replies. Well, I have changed my plans and instead of doing what I was asking about, I have made a new no-dig bed for asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. The crows are under a feet of mulch, composed of fallen leaves, hay straw, woodchips and a bit of compost. It is their first year here, so all I can say is that they are growing. In a year or two we will see if they will become productive.



Hi Richard.
I'm in zone 7 with heavier soil. Odds are good that your Jerusalem may choke out the asparagus within a couple/few years. They are very aggressive growers and I put them far far away from other perennials. I also leave the top of the crowns completely exposed when planting. We dig a ditch, just over a foot deep and about 18 - 24" wide. We then build up hills inside of the ditch with compost and spread the long roots around these hills (1 hill per asparagus crown), leaving the very top of the crown visible. We then fill in the ditches which will give the roots lots of insulation for the winter and top dress with leaves then woodchips, barely covering the top of the crown. We use a lot of woodchips for fall/winter mulch.
I am really interested in hearing how things go for you with this bed.
Good luck~
M.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9416
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I would also not mix asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes, because you don't want to disturb the asparagus plants, but will need to dig to harvest the sunchokes.


 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 428
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Debbie, yes, the daffodils are great in late spring when everything is looking dreary, including the weather, and then those bright yellow guys come up.

The other thing that gophers leave alone and are very drought tolerant are day lillies, and those are good markers, too. This site talks about the zones they work in.

http://roycroftdaylilies.com/climate
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1424
Location: Central New Jersey
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What an excellent idea, using seasonal flower markers to remind you where you planted less showy plants and timing the flowering to line up with harvest!
I expect this could be made to work with quite a few ccombinations. And of course it gets pollinators distributed about as well.
 
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