The Q&A Archives: Weedy Asparagus Bed

Question: We planted a dozen 1-year-old asparagus plants 2 years ago in holes with bone meal, lime and manure. I was told I missed the time to have trimmed them back. The bed is now covered with weeds and burrs. The stalks are about two foot high, brown and funny looking. They are in two rows about 1 1/2 foot apart planted on a diagonal from each other. What can I do this year to ensure I actually get a good crop? Can you give me specific details on when and how to fertilize, harvest, cut tops, enclose plot, weed, kill burrs and what to use on them?

Answer: Once planted, the difficult part of asparagus is done! So all is not lost yet. In early spring, cut back all the dead foliage. Pull out any obvious perennial weeds that you can, and then add several inches of compost that will both nourish the soil, and keep weeds down. Since the weeds are a serious problem, it's a good idea to add several layers of newspapers under the mulch. Asparagus is a heavy feeder so you may wish to add some 5-10-10 fertilizer at this time too, since they have been untended these last few seasons. You should be able to harvest some this year.

Once the harvest is over, or if you've allowed some asparagus to grow too large for harvest, do not cut the ferny stalks back. This provides their food for next year. Don't cut them back until late fall or early next spring. It's easy to ignore the crop once you are done harvesting and that's when the weeds take over. But the newspapers and mulch should help a lot. You should be able to enjoy this gourmet veggie this spring!

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