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Here’s how to weed an Asparagus patch to grow healthy plentiful stalks of Asparagus every year.
Asparagus is one of the very early treats in our garden. By the time it’s ready for picking in June, we’re itching for fresh garden vegetables. And nothing can beat the taste of fresh Asparagus! Steamed very lightly for maybe 4 minutes tops, it’s one of our favourite sides dishes at dinner.
Part of maintaining your asparagus beds is regular weeding. Weed control of both annual weeds and the much worse perennial weeds is something that should be done starting in early spring. Here’s more about how to weed an asparagus patch, so you can grow lots of healthy stalks every spring.
If you’ve got weeds in asparagus beds, do your best to remove them throughout the growing season. You will find you have healthier harvests of asparagus spears!
How to Weed an Asparagus Patch
Before we get into the weeding details, here’s some general important information to know about how to grow asparagus in your garden.
Planting An Asparagus Bed
Asparagus needs to be planted in its own bed; you can also grow asparagus in raised beds, which will definitely make it easier to keep weed free.
Asparagus is a perennial, which means it is planted once and will then come up every spring, grow, then die down in the fall. It is common for a well-cared for patch of Asparagus to be productive for decades.
This is why it needs its own space; you don’t want to plant Asparagus where you will be tilling or digging. Take the time to amend the soil heavily before planting Asparagus crowns.
Also, because Asparagus takes several years before you can start freely picking the stalks, always try to order one or two year old asparagus crowns from the nursery.
The older the asparagus crowns that you plant, the sooner you will be able to enjoy really good harvests. So, try for two (or even three) year old Asparagus crowns.
Using a Trench for Asparagus Plants
The very best way to get a patch started is by digging a trench roughly 2 feet deep. Then, make a mound of dirt in the trench. Plant the individual crowns by spreading the roots freely into the trench. Then, backfill with some of the soil (not all).
Over that first growing season, keep backfilling the trench as the plants grow. This will allow each asparagus plant to be grown as deep as possible, with the growing stalks under the dirt as deep as possible. This is great for the coming years.
Leave the plants alone the first year, and do not not cut any at all. The plants will settle in over that first year and you want as much energy as possible going into feeding those roots.
The following year you can snap a few stalks but don’t take much. And take only one stalk from each plant. Leave as much alone to grow and send up those beautiful asparagus fern fronds. Always leave plenty of stalks for next year’s crop. The longer you can hold off free picking, the more Asparagus you will have in later years.
By the third or fourth year, you should be able to pick freely. Here in our Zone 3 garden, the final harvest is in mid-July or so, then we leave the rest of the plants to grow.
Weeding an Asparagus Bed
Our garden is an organic garden, so we don’t use any type of chemicals here. Although you can use chemicals like roundup to keep your bed weed free, that’s not the route we go.
The most important thing to keep in mind when cleaning and maintaining your Asparagus patch is to NOT disturb the roots of the plants. This is because if the roots get cut or nicked by your garden trowel, that portion of the plant may die. Asparagus roots are so sensitive!
If you have lots of weeds that have creeped into your patch, start weeding at a point farthest away from the actual plants. Then use a shallow garden trowel to gently start lifting the dirt and pulling weeds.
I have learned from experience that the roots are so darn sensitive to any lifting or nicking that I won’t use either a hoe or a shovel. I use only the shallower garden trowel. Always remember, shallow cultivation is the key!
Soil that is lightly worked will make it easier for getting rid of weeds. Take your time and start working your way from the outside of the bed, where you can did deeper and work towards the actual plants, where you will need to work much shallower and gentler.
If you have any trailing weeds, like couch grass or Johnson grass (that grow by underground runners), this process will make it easier to get the entire root out without breaking off.
Over the season, if you can keep any small weeds from growing, do it! Check your patch weekly and get rid of any weed seedlings.
Mulching an Asparagus Bed
What can you put on asparagus to keep the weeds down?
Once you have your patch all weeded and cleaned out, using mulch is a great way to keep any new weeds from growing up in the bed. I like to put roughly a 5 inch layer of mulch (we use straw) over the entire patch.
The stalks will be able to grow through the straw, and once I see them poking up, I can remove a little bit of the straw around each of the asparagus plants.
Other mulches to use on asparagus patches include:
- pine shavings
- bark mulch
- spent clean hay
- pine needles
- seaweed (composted)
Can you use plastic as a mulch for asparagus?
Yes, you can use plastic as mulch! We often do this, using a roll of black plastic. Black plastic gets laid in between each of our asparagus rows, then put straw on top of that.
We also lay the plastic all around the outside of the actual bed itself, to keep grass from encroaching from the lawn. Plastic works well to keep the weeds under control.
And as a bonus, if you have spreading weeds like we do, any roots that do get through are much weaker because they have zero access to light. This makes it even easier for weeding the asparagus bed.
Growing Asparagus in a Raised Bed
This is by far the best way to grow your own patch. Building a raised bed means lots of good soil, a nice deep trench for the asparagus to grow and it is more difficult for weeds that grow from spreading roots to take hold.
I wish we would have planted asparagus in a raised bed here, as it would have saved hours of weeding time.
We have boards all around the perimeter of the asparagus patch. That does help quite a bit; we dug a trench and then set the boards in that trench.
However, with the couch grass we have, it doesn’t help much because the roots just go deeper, get under the board and pop up in the bed. It would have been much better if we had grown the plants in a raised bed to start with. It is a good option worth considering when you start your own patch.
Keeping the Asparagus Bed Weed Free
Once we stop picking (and it is always hard to do that!) we leave the spears to grow into fronds. This will help us get a larger harvest next year.
Spend the time before you plant your Asparagus bed to make it the very best you can. Make sure it is weed free and then keep it that way. An Asparagus bed can easily remain in the same place for twenty years.
You can learn more about growing Asparagus here.
Asparagus is one of the earliest vegetables you can eat in the Spring and it is delicious. Steam it very lightly, then enjoy. It will be crunchy, firm and delicious!
Make some Pickled Asparagus for your pantry! These Asparagus Spears have a great zing to them – add one to your Caesar or Bloody Mary!
Now that you know how to weed an Asparagus patch, plan where to site your bed and get some crowns in the ground.
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