Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Update on our Asparagus Crown Planting: Part III

Our Final Asparagus Crown Planting Update 

May 2015

Here’s the last update ‘til fall for our newly planted asparagus crown bed. At the end of the last post, we mentioned that as the spears grow, you will gradually fill in your furrow with soil until its top surface is even with the surrounding soil line. We have been doing this since our last post, adding the final layer of soil to finish filling in the furrow today.

Surrounding Soil
Filling the Furrow
The process is the same as before: Gently pull soil into the furrow, while not completely covering any buds that are still emerging. Yesterday a large afternoon thunderstorm had already started to fill the furrow with surrounding soil. We used a collinear hoe to once more level out the rest of it. You might notice in the photos that some of the crowns are establishing faster than others and those spears have already grown well above the soil line. This is okay – some are just slower to snap out of their stay in cold storage than others and will catch up eventually.

Leveling Out the Furrow
Now that the soil level is where it should be, the next step is to cover the bed with mulch to suppress any weeds that might begin to grow. Keeping your asparagus bed free of weeds will not only save you a lot of labor, but support nutrient and moisture availability to the crowns. We use straw to mulch our bed, but other materials that allow water to percolate through, such as composted leaves, can also be used. Leave a couple inches of soil surface open around the line of spears down the center, of the bed, or keep the mulch layer thin in this area, especially if there are any crowns with spears that have not yet emerged above the soil line.

See photos below:

Your asparagus bed is now well set until fall — but keep an eye on it, and keep the soil moderately moist throughout the hot summer months.

In the fall, when the fronds have died back, cut them off at soil level, and be sure to remove all the debris, to eliminate potential habitat for asparagus beetles. Fall is also the time to add more compost, if needed, and to freshen up the mulch for the winter ahead.