Vegetables and Fruit forum: Asparagus and what?

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Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
May 24, 2014 10:39 AM CST
I have asparagus seeds I've been mulling over where to plant. I have three possible places in two different beds.

First bed has a small amount of room for planting, but probably will have room to spread, or part of the asparagus dug up for transplanting elsewhere. I planted some strawberries along a chain link fence so it would have a lot of air and a lot of sun. I left a 3'x3' area between the strawberries and the next half of the bed, where I will be growing blackberries. The first blackberry bush is easily 3 feet away from the beginning of its bed. The plan is to trim the blackberries and the suckers so they all continue to grow on the east side of this blackberry bush - which means away from the strawberries and also away from the small 3'x3' spot I'm considering for the asparagus. There is a lot of space on the east side of the blackberry bush. I plan to add some goji berry bushes next to the blackberries so I can't put the asparagus on that side. I don't mind the asparagus spreading a little into the strawberries. The chain link fence runs from east to west along the north edge of the yard, but it gets a whisper of shade just from the fence as the house is too far away to provide any shade.

The other bed has more room for growing. It is along the west side of my squash and melon bed. This area gets FULL sun. There are no trees or bushes for shade. I saved a 3' strip behind the melons and behind the squash, to allow planting something that would provide the melons and squash with some shade. That strip is where I hoped to plant the asparagus. I think it is at least 15 feet long.

There is a short 3' wall all around most of my yard. (There are two spots that have chain link instead.) I already discovered last year that the short wall does not provide enough shade for the melons and squash. This ends up being the driest spot in the entire yard because it gets so much sun. So, I planned to plant a few stands of comfrey in that 3' strip between the short wall and the melons and squash bed. In between the comfrey, I want to plant the asparagus. The comfrey is supposed to be a good companion plant for asparagus.

I'm not looking to grow a ton of asparagus as I do love it, but it is just for me. I know it takes a couple years to start harvesting the asparagus, but I'm willing to wait. I have a variety of other veggies I'm growing, but really look forward to eating something that will be a perennial I can hopefully count on each year. I prefer to plant the asparagus along the west short wall so it will also give some shade to the melons as I understand they can grow tall. Also give some shade for me when I'm weeding and working in that melon bed because it is like an oven all day long in that spot. From what I've researched, I haven't discerned that asparagus has tender stalks that need protection from the wind. If it does need protection, along the short west wall would again be the best place. I'm also considering planting some parsley along the end where the squash is growing.

I have a lot of borage seeds sowed throughout my squash and melons. I also added some white clover on the east side of the patch. The herb bed, where there are a bunch of different herbs, is between my melon patch and the veggie bed. The squash is on the side closest to the herb bed. But there is a little more than 3 feet of rocks between the herb bed and the squash.

One of the concerns I had about planting too close to the short wall is slugs. So far, I haven't seen any slugs anywhere in my yard. Even the east side mini-yard seems to be slug free. I have been looking. I think the slugs may not like the west wall because it is very short and there is about 10 feet of rocks on the other side. Not ideal for slugs? I thought interspersing the different plants; asparagus, comfrey and a bit of parsley, would hopefully deter most problems. With various herbs planted everywhere in my garden, including the ton of borage I planted a few days ago, the asparagus should be happy growing along the edge of this melon bed. I have just enough compost left to work into the soil before planting the asparagus. I already amended the soil before planting the rest of the bed, but I don't think a bit of extra compost will hurt.

Is there anything else that people add to the soil for asparagus?

Also, I would prefer to direct sow the asparagus, but I've seen that most people seem to start seeds in a pot in spring, then plant in the ground in fall. Will transplanting set the plants back? Anything else I should consider?
"A garden is a friend you can visit any time." - Anonymous
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
May 24, 2014 3:36 PM CST
If you ever decided to transplant/move mature asparagus plants, you may have a problem. I have a fairly large patch of asparagus, started from seeds that were germinated in my greenhouse in January, 2011. I only planted three of the seedlings in the garden in April. Those three seedlings became a 2x3' patch. I never harvested any of the spears, letting them all grow to give maximum energy to those expanding root systems.

This spring, I decided I wanted to elevate that patch of plants. I built up my raised garden last fall and boxed in the asparagus patch because the spears were all green and 5-6' tall. I didn't want to cover the asparagus with a foot of soil. Thus that patch was now lower than the rest of the garden. While the asparagus was still dormant, I dug a trench 1 ft. around the outer-most plants and a foot deep, thinking I would just slide the shovel beneath the roots and lift part of the "root ball" at a time, adding soil beneath it. I could NOT lift a single bit of that root ball. Those roots were so dense and so deep, all I did was end up cutting a bunch of roots. I soon gave up. My plan now is to slowly top that patch of asparagus with a mixture of dirt and composted leaves. It may take a year or two to get it raised to the level of my garden.

Since I did not direct-sow, I can't tell you about doing that. All my raised garden is a mix of top-soil and composted soil, about 50-50. When I planted the asparagus seedlings, I dug out three holes that would each be about 2 gal. in size and filled it in with potting soil, which I custom make. It consists of 1/2 milled sphagnum and 1/2 Black Kow. To every two gallons I add a cup of coarse perlite and a handful of Osmocote as well. I don't measure all this, just guesstimate. That's how my plants generally start. I guess over time, my garden will end up with a lot of perlite, since it doesn't break down. But that additional drainage will be a good thing (I think).

I have never seen a slug in or on my asparagus. Perhaps they are there, but I just don't see them and haven't seen any damage to the stems/leaves. Deer won't even eat it. I don't think that deer like all the "fluffy" stems-with-leaves. I broad-cast a couple of handfuls of Osmocote each April into the asparagus plants. Asparagus seems to do well with slightly moist soil and full sun. You want the bed to drain well.
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Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
Herbs Dog Lover Bee Lover Vegetable Grower Garden Procrastinator
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ckatNM
May 24, 2014 4:44 PM CST
Hmm. This is all useful information to know. I suppose it might be easier to move asparagus if it is younger, like one year old? I've read in other places that people planted one year asparagus. Maybe it is not possible to move if the seeds are sown in ground because the roots immediately go deep. But I definitely won't try to move any after one year. I hoped to take some cuttings/dig up a part of it next year to start a new area. Hopefully that makes sense. If it is better to start it in pots, I'd guess it needs to be in a fairly large container. I also have to wonder if asparagus can be grown in large containers. I'm thinking a container that is about 18" deep, or as deep as a trash barrel.

I have always loved asparagus, but don't know why I've never grown it myself. It is too expensive to buy from the store, so I probably only eat it twice a year. When I recently saw the seeds at the store I thought that I should be able to grow at least two servings a year. More would make me very happy, but I'm trying to avoid being greedy about any of my edibles; a little of this and a little of that I think is a better deal. My favorite meals have 5 or more different items from the garden. Anytime I'm not stuck eating the same stuff over and over, makes it a great time for me. We had tomatoes, peppers, okra and watermelon grow fairly well last year. The only thing I didn't get bored of was the watermelon. I didn't have enough kinds of peppers and tomatoes or home grown things to eat with them.

I think the strip along the west wall is easier to keep moist. The wall keeps the winds from drying out all the soil. It is covered with about 4 inches of straw that has helped keep the moisture from completely draining out. Otherwise, the entire yard drains well and often too well. I just give extra water to the areas that need more.

I've just eaten the last of the store-bought asparagus I while typing this.
"A garden is a friend you can visit any time." - Anonymous
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 2, 2014 8:23 AM CST
Ken, I think gradually building up the soil level in your asparagus patch is a good way to go; my understanding is that the roots will basically seek their "comfort level," but I think adding too much all at once could smother them.

Cheshirekat - I don't think you would have any trouble with moving seedlings that were direct sown if you do it the first year; they are pretty tiny at that point. I definitely agree with Ken about moving older plants, though; very difficult to do, and hard on the plants (at best).

The stalks aren't particularly bothered by wind but they do get quite tall and will flop over; my patch is about 6 x 8' (3 rows 8' long) and I generally use some ring-type tomato cages to support them and/or make a temporary fence around it with stakes and twine once I'm done picking. If I was going to do it over I think I would make one long row along an edge somewhere in the garden, which would make it much easier to weed once the stalks have grown up.

Slugs have never been a problem on my asparagus, but I have asparagus beetles show up every year, usually when the first small stalks are getting "ferny," while I'm still picking the bigger ones. They not only can really defoliate the ferny foliage, but the eggs on the stalks that you want to eat aren't very appetizing... Sticking tongue out I've been using a rotenone-based garden dust at the first sign of the beetles, and generally one or two applications keeps them under control for the whole summer (if done when there aren't many of them).
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Jun 2, 2014 9:00 AM CST
Hum, I have never seen a beetle on my asparagus, neither the well-established plants nor the "seedlings" in 1 gal. pots. I will have to keep an eye out for these. Thanks for the heads-up, Sandy.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
Jun 2, 2014 9:05 AM CST
Thanks for that info. I think I will plant the asparagus in two places. If it works out, I can have more. Instead of just one stand.

I hope I won't see any asparagus beetles.
"A garden is a friend you can visit any time." - Anonymous
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
Jun 17, 2014 8:46 AM CST
It is winter now here. Can I cut my asparagus fronds off or should I let them die back naturally? They are still mostly nice and green.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jun 17, 2014 11:49 AM CST
I let mine go completely dormant in the fall. The stems/leaves will be brown and brittle. It does not hurt to just leave them but I then cut them off at the soil-line for aesthetic reasons.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Jun 17, 2014 1:17 PM CST
Hi Glen -- I'm not sure why, but mine never seem to turn brown before our snow starts, so once fall is pretty well done I cut the stalks down regardless; I've had some problems with asparagus beetles and I've read that you should clean all the dead stuff out before winter as it can harbor the eggs or whatever. (We have pretty harsh winters where I'm at so I just have to do it when I can) For the same reason I always burn all the stalks instead of composting them. But other than the potential for harboring insect pests, I don't think there's a need to cut the stalks until spring.

Our asparagus is producing like crazy right now -- yum!! Smiling
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
Bearded Dragon young male
Region: Australia Annuals Canning and food preservation Herbs Tropicals Foliage Fan
Plays in the sandbox Cactus and Succulents Garden Photography Hybridizer Composter Sedums
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Gleni
Sep 14, 2014 9:47 PM CST
Well, at last, after raising a large asparagaus bed from one plant: an endeavour that has taking several years: I am at last harvesting my first this season. So far so good. Just one question: if I keep on eating the stems as they come on will the plants die? Do you eventually have to let some stems go through to fronds or will the crowns be fine?

Thumb of 2014-09-15/Gleni/ee0082

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Sep 15, 2014 7:54 AM CST
Glen, my understanding is that you should leave anything grow that is smaller around than a pencil, to feed the roots for next season.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Sep 15, 2014 9:01 AM CST
I agree
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
Bearded Dragon young male
Region: Australia Annuals Canning and food preservation Herbs Tropicals Foliage Fan
Plays in the sandbox Cactus and Succulents Garden Photography Hybridizer Composter Sedums
Image
Gleni
Sep 15, 2014 9:03 AM CST
Thank you. Will try to do.

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