Mulching Asparagus - Knowledgebase Question

Dansville, NY
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Question by henchen
April 7, 1998
I would like to know what to use on asparagus to keep the weeds down. I have lightly tilled the top of my bed & would like to know if I can use a mulch or something to keep the weeds down.

Answer from NGA
April 7, 1998
First of all, be very careful when tilling in your asparagus patch. As the patch ages, the crowns will "creep" within 4-6" of the soil surface, so keep your tilling very shallow to prevent damage to crowns and emerging spears.

Here's how to work on weed prevention and improve soil at the same time. In the spring the rows should be ridged. Generally you do this by drawing soil up to the row by using a hoe. But if you use compost instead of topsoil to form these ridges, it will add valuable plant nutrients to the soil. This ridge should be several inches high. Each season the bed should get a liberal supply of organic material, so in the fall, I always cut off the dead foliage and cover the bed with compost. This will be the compostI use to form those ridges in the spring. It serves multiple purposes: it creates a good mulch for winter protection; it continues to decompose (as it would in my compost bin) right on the asparagus bed, leaching good nutrients into the soil all winter long; and it is there ready to be used in the spring. You may need to add more mulch (compost) in the spring to cover the bare soil you have created by hoeing up the ridges. This mulch, or compost, serves also to keep the weeds at bay! If you are concerned that annual weed seeds may light on the compost and sprout, cover the exposed surface with a thick layer of straw. Around the beds, apply a couple of layers of newspaper followed by straw.

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