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November 24, 2018
I just finishing up my first year growing asparagus. What is the proper procedure
for preparing for winter? I haven't found any consistent information on the internet.
Currently I have a good growth of asparagus ferns averaging 3-4 foot tall.
There are several different opinions on what to do. Some gardeners clean up the space
as soon as a killing frost occurs, cutting back all the fronds. Others leave the spent
debris out there all winter to prevent weeds from growing. Typically diseases and
insects are minimal with asparagus plantings, but if you do have any issues from pests,
cleaning up in the fall after a hard frost will ensure a cleaner planting next spring.
If you do leave the spent foliage all winter, make sure to remove it in early February
before the asparagus plants begin new growth.
May 12, 2018
When do I need to quit picking my asparagus? I have been harvesting heavily for 2
months. I know it needs a break but it is so good.
There is nothing better than fresh asparagus. Quit harvesting when the spears are
smaller than a pencil in diameter. If you over-harvest, it can wear the plants out
and it will produce poorly in future years.
April 29, 2017
I have a seven year old asparagus bed that I did not harvest until the third year.
Since then I have enjoyed lots of yummy asparagus. Last year's harvest was a bit
disappointing and so far this year it has been downright pitiful: not one fat spear,
some skinny spears and lots of skinny spears ferning out way too soon (too short to
be doing this). I noticed last year that some areas had skinny spears and not the
nice fat ones from previous years. Now it seems to be the entire bed. Could the
last two mild winters have anything to do with this? I have spent a lot of time congratulating
myself on this asparagus bed and perhaps not enough time doing what?
While it is true that high temperatures in the fall can impact the quality of the
spring asparagus harvest, I have seen some outstanding asparagus this spring, so I
don't think our weather had anything to do with this. Have you been fertilizing your
beds every year? Asparagus likes a rich site. Some gardeners add a layer of compost
or well-rotted manure every spring while others simply fertilize. Fertilization is
something you should do every year. Most gardeners fertilize once a year after harvest,
while others divide the application into two and fertilize after harvest and again
6-8 weeks later. Are you watering when dry in the summer? If your plants are struggling
to grow it can impact the harvest. If there are neighboring trees with competing roots,
or if you overharvest in later years this can also impact the plants. Try to get
them healthy and happy this year and hope for a better season next year. With proper
care, asparagus can be productive for twenty years or more.
My husband and I planted a bed of asparagus this year from roots. We have a lot of
ferns and a lot of seed. In fact, they have grown 4 to 5 feet tall. We would like
to know how to put this asparagus bed to sleep for the winter. Do we leave it alone
and wait until they die? Do we cut them down? Can we get seeds from them to start
another bed, and if so how? They make a wonderful display of ferns and we know that
it will be a few years before we can enjoy them. We just wanted to make sure we do
right by them until then.
Allow the ferns to grow until we have a killing frost, and then cut them back. Some
gardeners leave the old ferns until mid-winter before taking them off, to prevent
winter weeds, but either option will work. If you planted one year old crowns,
you will need to wait another year before harvesting. You should be in full production
by the time the plants are four years old. You can grow plants from the seeds, but
the production time is delayed even longer--add an additional year to the process.
Plant the seeds ½ inch deep in the spring when the soil warms up. I think it is easier
and quicker to propagate them vegetatively.
I salvaged several asparagus crowns while tearing down raised beds at my 90 year old
aunt’s yard. They have thick healthy roots and I am keeping them moist. But where
and when should I plant them? Where can I store them until we have a spot to plant
Plant them now. Work up the soil to incorporate as much organic matter as you can—compost,
well-rotted manure, etc. They need a spot where they can grow for years—since they
are a perennial. Rich, well-drained soil in full sun is best. Water them well all
summer and lightly fertilize. Next year, if you harvest at all, do so for a short
period. Make sure you don’t harvest anything smaller than a pencil in diameter. You
don’t want to wear them out until they are well established again in your garden.
With proper care, asparagus can continue to give you weeks of wonderful edible spears
in the spring for many years to come. If you don’t have a spot, then at least pot
them up so they continue to grow and produce foliage. The foliage feeds the roots
and helps them grow stronger each year.
This is the first year that I grew asparagus with two year old crowns. I did not harvest
any this year as directed. What or how do I take care of them this winter? When I
harvest next year how much and how often; I have 10 plants? How do I take care of
my garden spot for the winter as I have never had a designated garden spot before?
Asparagus is a great perennial vegetable. You can begin a small harvest next spring,
but don’t overdo it. Harvest until the size of the spears is smaller than a pencil
in diameter. If you continue to harvest really small spears, you can wear the plant
out, which will impact your harvest for years to come. By the following year, you
should be in full production. As to winter care, simply let the ferny fronds grow
until a killing frost and then cut them back. Some folks leave the fronds out for
the bulk of the winter to cut down on weed issues, but you should remove the spent
tops by mid January at the latest, to get the spot ready for spring harvest. For the
general garden, fall sanitation—removing spent debris and either mulching or planting
a fall cover crop can help keep weeds at bay and start your season cleaner. Some choices
for fall cover crops include clovers, vetches, rye, and field peas.
I have an established asparagus patch that I have had for several years. I normally
quit harvesting on June 1st every year. I have done this in the past in another state,
and I would like to know if this is correct for Arkansas. Also, is it ok to treat
with salt to keep the grass down, and when is the proper time to do this treatment?
I don't usually give a date to stop harvesting. You will usually harvest for six to
eight weeks, but really strong plants can produce longer. The key is to stop harvesting
when the spears are smaller than a pencil in diameter. If you continue to harvest
as the spears get smaller, you can deplete the energy of the plant, resulting in weaker
harvests in years to come. Salt is an old-fashioned remedy for weed control in asparagus
beds. Asparagus is more tolerant of salt than most other vegetables, but I hesitate
to recommend it. Salt stays in the soil for a long time and can build up if you use
it every year. If there is any slope in your garden the salt can leach into surrounding
soil where other vegetables are less tolerant. I would prefer light cultivation and
mulching to keep grass and weeds out.