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Asparagus for the forest garden  RSS feed

 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I planted asparagus in a woodland garden setting on raised beds but with a lot of root competition. It did not so well. I had planted in the mixed border it worked better but it does not produce a lot of spears. The mixed border is in full sun, but we have enough sun.
Does asparagus like root competition? Or is it better planted on its own?
 
Cj Sloane
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According to this, a little of both:


I just planted some like that this spring, in the front part of a swale with fruit trees. So far, so good.
 
John Saltveit
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I agree with CJ's picture. I have grown asparagus very successfully in full sun with little competition. I gave it a lot of water. It fits in the front (southernmost part) of the yard, as you are moving vertically back to the tall trees.
john s
pdx or
 
Meryt Helmer
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Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I only planted mine this year so it is too soon for me to know how it will do. I have my plants not that close to other plants and about 15 are in one bed making a little bit on a mono culture there but then the rest of my plants (i have 26) are randomly placed around other plants in spots that get sun but also not that close to the other plants so that their roots have some room. so far the ones in the monoculture type bed are doing the best. i am hoping to plant some other plants in that bed with them but am not sure what the other plants might be. i have pondered some garlic and carrots in the areas that have more space so that they wont be that close to the asparagus but close enough to perhaps break up the monocultureish aspect of the bed. I also put an in ground worm bin in that asparagus bed which is working really well.
 
Cj Sloane
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The pic (which I think is from the PDM) says it's a water edge plant. I have seen wild asparagus on the side of the road, above the ditch, so come to think of it, it's just like that picture really.
 
Angelika Maier
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That is an awesome idea!! I have a wet area.
 
John Polk
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From what I have heard, asparagus does love water.
It used to be a huge crop in the Sacramento delta region.
Almost a marshland. Under water until springtime, then dry all summer.
Asparagus thrived there, with those conditions.

 
Ann Torrence
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Asparagus grows wild here along the irrigation banks, a little higher than in CJ's picture but the basic idea.

It is also growing wild in the new orchard in random spots that don't get much water. There's even a couple spears coming up between gate and road where it probably has been compacted and hasn't seen water since April. A few of the patches are making asparagus berries (seed pods? fruits?) that I plan to spread around. Could be a good yield because the old-timers defend their foraging sections of the canal and the newcomers just want asparagus. It has a stronger, wilder taste than any I've had from the store.
 
Cj Sloane
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Here's what my version of the pic above looks like:


I did 5 of these and the asparagus planted in the swale is doing better, but probably just because of the sticks protecting them from the chickens and 137 lb dog who seems to enjoy laying on anything recently planted.

I do have a trickle of a stream running thru this paddock and now I wonder if I should plant more along the edge of the stream.

The big question (and maybe this deserves it's own thread) is how do you make sure people don't step on your stuff in a forest garden? Newly planted/young asparagus seems extra vulnerable. I've put landscaping flags right next to my new trees to warn my husband. What do other people do?
 
John Saltveit
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CJ:
Make definite paths of wood chips. If something is leaning over, now you've got compost materials/chop and toss. Be clear about who and how they can go in there. If something valuable is in the path, move it. Things need to be moved over time when they die/dont' taste as good/not as productive as you thought/ don't fit your plan.
John S
PDX OR
 
Cj Sloane
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John Saltveit wrote:CJ:
Make definite paths of wood chips.


Funny, because I was thinking about doing the opposite i.e. you could step on the grass but not where there are wood chips!
 
John Saltveit
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I think grass in a food forest is a problem. It creates tight, shallow sod mats, which prevent water and nutrients from going down into the soil. I think of dynamic accumulators as the opposite of grass: they encourage nutrients to come up through their deep roots to the surface.

I have grass in my yard, but it is in a shady walkway, not in the food forest.
John S
PDX OR
 
Jennifer Charlton-Dennis
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Location: North East Ohio
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Kind of off topic but: Have any of you tried wild asparagus that you found near a ditch? I'm just worried about run off from vehicles and such. We live in a very rural area, but there is still run off. Thanks
 
Bill Bradbury
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Every spring, my wife and I drive the back roads looking for those distinctive flowers shooting up 5 feet out of solid grass and weeds about 2 feet above water level on the inside crest of the ditch bank. The spears are huge, tender and sweet. A gift from our ancestors to enjoy today. I must say though that this is dairy country and most of the fields are in an organic rotation of alfalfa, corn and grain with yearly top dressings of dairy manure/straw, so the water quality is not a problem.
Asparagus is growing in our new orchard, in the place where the ditch used to be, but the ditch is now a 4" PVC pipe. The orchard has been feral for a decade, but there between the grapes in a dense patch of orchard grass about 4' tall are those tiny yellow flowers above it all. So I scythed the grass and found a dozen spears shooting up. This area was completely unwatered. We installed swales and a pond, but not in that area yet.
It seems to me that asparagus is a lot like growing service berries; they take a fair bit of patience and persistence to initially get them going but then, even if completely neglected will still produce.
 
Angelika Maier
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We have a greywater outlet, I could plant asparagus nearby not really in the greywater but close to it.
It seems that asparagus needs a lot of water, now I know THAT was the problem, not the shade.
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