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Planting asparagus berries  RSS feed

 
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I have some female asparagus, despite the nursery saying they were all male  Now I have some pretty red berries on a few plants.  I'm imagining I could plant them in my food forest.  But I'm confused about depth.  When planting crowns I believe you put them 8" deep or so.  When an asparagus plant drops a berry, I doubt it burrows 8" deep on its own.  

Has anybody had success planting them and how deep did you put them?
 
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I've tried many times with ZERO success. Not even one tiny sprout.
 
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They have just been growing where they fall for me. I haven't had a lot of volunteers succeed but a few have. But my climate is very different from yours. Interested in seeing what others have to say.
 
Mike Jay
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I've had a couple volunteers as well.  Weirdly enough, they pop up 100 feet away from my established asparagus...

I'll wait a few weeks before planting them so if anyone else has any suggestions for methodology, I'm all eyes.
 
Mike Barkley
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I should mention that I've only tried in Texas. Not exactly asparagus climate but they grew from crowns fairly well. Ramping up a new patch here in TN. It would be great if they would start from seeds. By far my favorite fresh veggie. Not store fresh, garden fresh. Huge difference.
 
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Four years ago our small asparagus patch produced two big bushes with lots of red berries. I bundled up all of the dried material (male and female) and piled it up on a spot of bare ground near the compost. The following June when I cleaned up all of the debris, there were about 30 2" high asparagus plants growing where the pile had been. I dug up about 10 of the little plants with plenty of soil around each one and planted them in the patch and kept them moist all summer. Most of them survived and they produced some small asparagus shoots this year. None of the ones out by the compost survived with no care.
I can see only two berries on the dried bushes this year.  
 
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Mike Jay wrote:I've had a couple volunteers as well.  Weirdly enough, they pop up 100 feet away from my established asparagus...

I'll wait a few weeks before planting them so if anyone else has any suggestions for methodology, I'm all eyes.



This makes me wonder if a bunny rabbit helped... and if perhaps the digestive process aids germination.
 
Mike Jay
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Sarah Koster wrote:This makes me wonder if a bunny rabbit helped... and if perhaps the digestive process aids germination.


Good idea but I'm thinking not.  The parent and the volunteer were both within my fenced in garden.  The only seed eaters in the garden are voles, birds and humans.  We do make and spread compost so that could be how it moved, but it grew in a path, not on a bed where we'd normally put compost...

I believe rabbit digestive systems kill any seeds that go through them which is one reason rabbit poop is a great garden amendment.
 
Mike Barkley
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You know you're a permie when ... you get excited about someone else's asparagus berries.
 
pollinator
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I have planted asparagus from seeds (twice now!). Can't get crowns where I am. The seeds came in a commercial packet and I just assume were the black seeds inside the berries. They did take a ridiculously long time to sprout, but I wonder if keeping the berries a season in the fridge or something after drying might help.
 
Mike Jay
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Last year someone gave me some asparagus starts in little 1" pots (from a nursery).  Each little pot had a dozen baby asparagi that I teased apart and planted 8" deep.  I only covered them with 2" of dirt the first fall and then covered them the rest of the way in late winter when they were dormant.  About half made it so I should have a good patch in a couple years.

I suspect that the nursery put one berry in each pot and the seeds sprouted giving me the 12 per pot.

Since they're a temperate climate perennial plant, I'm assuming they need a winter in the ground before they sprout (cold stratification).
 
pollinator
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I've planted thousands of berries and seen hundreds of plants grow from them.  So many that I can't hardly yank them out of the ground fast enough.  They are almost like a weed.  Planting berries is the easiest way to propagate new plants.

At the end of the season, there is always a big tangle of those leggy, messy asparagus vines.  I hate that messy look.  (I run a tight ship in my permaculture food forest -- Molison might not approve, but I see no problem in keeping things tidy).  After cleaning it up, it makes a pile of asparagus branches that's 5 feet tall.  I giant mess of branches, all covered with red berries.  If I'm looking to start new crowns, I'll strip the branches over the top of a wheel barrow and collect the seeds by the hundreds.  Then I'll plant them about 2 inches deep or so in the location where I want my asparagus nursery.  Sometimes I'll just broadcast them and then rake them into the top couple of inches of soil.  I don't know the germination rate -- maybe 10%?  20%?  But with that many seeds, there are so many new crowns that start to grow that I can't hardly give them away.

In the asparagus patch itself, there are dozens of volunteers every year.  Some I leave, but most get pulled out and tossed in the compost.

I remember as a kid visiting my uncle's farm in South Dakota, where they had hundreds of asparagus plants along a drainage ditch, and another huge patch of asparagus planted amid trees in a shelter belt.  He'd planted them from seed years before.  Anyone who wanted to come out in the spring and look for spears was invited -- you go pick it.  For the asparagus growing in the trees, every fall he would dump a load of cow manure back in that space with the manure spreader.  The asparagus along the drainage ditch didn't get fertilized at all.  We had as much asparagus as you could pick.  In the fall, to clean it all up after frost had knocked the plants back, he'd just drop the bucket on the front end loader and skid it over the top of the asparagus patch, scraping the old tired spent vines off.  If he wanted to plant more, he'd take those vines (covered with berries) and sew them somewhere else in the shelter belt.

 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Marco, so 2" deep it is.  I'll put them in a bunch of spots in my food forest and we'll see what happens....
 
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I have new asparagus from hybrid asparagus all over my back to eden garden, since these are from a hybrid variety will they amount to anything?
 
Mike Jay
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My guess is that they will be a decent asparagus.  Hybrids are just a cross of two varieties so when they start to uncross or have babies the genetics changes but still stays pretty similar to some combination of the hybrid or the parents.  I'm not an expert though...
 
Mike Barkley
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My general thinking is that no asparagus is a bad asparagus. If it wants to grow I would let it.
 
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