Asparagus Volunteers

Austin, TX

I have a raised bed garden about 5ft X 5ft with 32 asparagus plant from crowns that are coming up on their third year. This is the first year that asparagus volunteers are showing up. There are about 10 of them. I am trying to decide if I should let them grow or if I should pull them. Any advice from those with more experience with asparagus? Thank you.

Talihina, OK

I guess that it depends on the location of the volunteers if they are not in a place that is already planned for then I say live and let live ,I used to have a fairly large bed of asparagas and volunteers would come up in flower beds and I just let them be as they make a nice contrast to blooming plants ...I plan to add another bed this year it will be in one of the new hugelkulture beds,can't wait...

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Let them grow as you can never have to much asparagus!

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Volunteers are fine, but you don't want the bed to get too crowded or it will stop producing. Periodically thin it out and pass the excess crowns on to another gardener or find a spot for a new bed.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

If they are in an asparagus bed, why are they called volunteers? Aren't they simply spreading as they should? It is a perennial-or am I wrong?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Drthor? Are you asking if you should harvest the volunteer spears or let them turn into ferns til 2nd year? I think since they are volunteers they can be harvested because their roots are established already. I don't think it will hurt the volunteers.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Jo - you're right.

Kittriana - you're right.

Anytime a spear comes up that's too thin you can just leave it and allow it to go to the frond stage so it will gather more strength for next year.

Our bed is over 20 years old and still producing beautifully. It only gets our own compost.

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Talihina, OK

First thing I do outside each day is to check on the asparagas bed not a peek so far this hurts...

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Ours start pushing through the earth the same time as the hosta and Asiatic lilies.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Grits? I am seeing very inconsistent warming trends as I travel. Tennesse I40 is busting out in leaves. Texarkana I swear I saw a Bradford pear blooming, and another white blooming trees- that I swear was not dogwood. Maybe summer plums. Yet the closer I get to Dallas there is nothing but some scrawny daffs bloomin in the roadside...not even redbuds.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Bradford Pear trees are blloming in my neighbor ...

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from JoParrott :
If they are in an asparagus bed, why are they called volunteers? Aren't they simply spreading as they should? It is a perennial-or am I wrong?


It depends -- if you plant Martha/Mary Washington or another old fashioned variety, they produce seeds and you can have actual germinated volunteers.

Austin, TX

Half of these are Jersey Giant and the other half are Purple Passion. I am thinking that it was a bit crowded in there last Summer, maybe it is better to keep them cleaned out for at least for a few more years. And then decide. I would hate to have so many that overall production is hurt.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

32 asparagus for a 5 x 5' bed is a lot. You might want to move half of them elsewhere. They do expand and that's what most gardeners dream about when they plant them. The alternative would be another 5 x 5' bed.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Views on asparagus planting: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/sqfoot/msg0223014418429.html

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

My asparagus bed is 4 rows wide. My only tool to keep weeds at bay is my riding lawn mower. I leave the plants as is for the winter. In spring before growth begins, I mow the whole thing down to about 3". Now weeds do not hinder harvesting for about 2 months. Once the plants again become ferns, I mow between the rows. Very few weeds grow in the rows. We hand weed a few bigger weeds. Very easy to care for this way.

Madras, OR

I let them grow, sometimes transplanting them where I lost a crown or have a bare spot, sometimes when I have too many, I start another bed

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

One asparagus crown keeps growing toward the front timber and you can see how it managed to grow right by the two pieces of almost joined wood. They grew, were harvested and were fine, as usual. This does show their determination to grow.

The next nice day will find me out there trying to remove a portion of the crown and giving it a home in a bare spot, just as Nancy does.

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La Grange, GA

Quote from pirl :
32 asparagus for a 5 x 5' bed is a lot. You might want to move half of them elsewhere. They do expand and that's what most gardeners dream about when they plant them. The alternative would be another 5 x 5' bed.


glad to have read this thread...plan on ordering 25 roots of jersey knight and planned on putting them in a raised bed 4' x 6' which is about the same sq ft. guess i better research a little more? space is not a problem, just didn't calculate it right i guess. thanks

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

We had 10 in a the garden of a former home (given to us by someone who couldn't fit all 25 he bought). I dug them up and planted them here. We could see within a year that they needed their own spot because they were already spreading and were in a flower garden. Jack built the 12' x 12' bed so we could add more and we did. They do expand, so expect it. That's what they're supposed to do.

This photo shows a typical plant in year 20. It takes up about 2 square feet. You can spot the white stubs left from those we had already enjoyed.

They are sold here in bands of 25 so we gave away some to a neighbor and she still has them along with some she allowed to grow from the type that have the red seed heads. They are not as good (to our taste) as the Jersey Giant.

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Talihina, OK

Saw some spears peeking up today But I think it be a bit early so a covered with some loose mulch we have been having low 20s for morning temps I will git it another week or so ..I have a new hugelkulture bed that I plan to plant with asparagas it is 3'x7' equals 21sq.ft. so does 16 crowns sound about right..

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Yay! Warmups movin north!

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

pirl
thanks for posting pictures of your asparagus bed.
Please keep posting pictures.
I am very interested on learning about growing asparagus and I learn the best just looking at pictures.
Thanks in advance.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks, drthor. I'd be happy to show you more photos.

1. At some point you do stop picking asparagus to allow the fronds to grow and give the roots energy for next year. Some experts will say to only harvest for six weeks in spring. We've harvested until the end of June (sometimes until July 4th) but then you can be selective and just take the fattest spears. You can see how fast they grow here. We had picked before we left for vacation but the person who agreed to harvest forgot and they grew this tall in 7 days.

2. By August 8th this is how it looks. Three of our six compost bins are to the left in this photo.

3. The fronds have to go yellow, generally following a frost. Then they get cut back. This was our heaven sent Neri who worked for us in 2011.

4. A collage to show we laid new weed fabric together, Neri spread many bags of wood chips, and finally the asparagus garden was ready to sleep for the winter. Neri had laid down our own compost over each asparagus plant, a few inches thick. All the cut ferns go to the chipping pile and get turned into compost so nothing at all is wasted.

5. Sleep time. They love cold winter weather.

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Perfect. Thanks so much.
That exactly what I needed to know and see.
I love your Foxgloves by the way. In my garden the self seed every year.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Glad I could be of help. The Foxgloves self-seed here as well, sometimes way too much. Had to remove a few hundred from another garden. They were 6' tall and had planted themselves at the front of a border.

The one thing I neglected to mention was the asparagus beetle. We've had it a few times but I didn't spray. I just cut the plants down and they went elsewhere.

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Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Wow, pirl, I wish we had green like that out west, here. It's high alpine desert here, but in the summer, it's good and dry. Good for people, bad for plants, lol. I tried to transplant some ancient non-producing Mary Washingtons into pots last fall in the greenhouse, but I don't think they survived. I'd rather have the all male ones for spears, but I have seen a 'Mary Washington improved' variety. Anyone grown that one?

La Grange, GA

thanks for sharing the pictures pirl

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

wwwoooowww
My Foxgloves don't grow so tall in Dallas ....

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Solace and Opa.

Solace - my (now late) radio gardening guy used to say asparagus do not transplant well. Luckily for me, I moved mine before I ever heard him say it. Mine were kept in plastic grocery store bags so it's twice as amazing that they even survived. We haven't tried 'Mary Washington'.

Drthor - I'll try to remember to save some seeds for you this year. The lupine also grow very tall but haven't hit 6' yet.

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Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Foxgloves like cooler conditions then TX usually offers.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

pirl
I did try Lupine years ago when I was a new TX gardener ... I grew it like an annual here. But it never grew very tall.
I travel to Norway once a year for business and when I visited in September the roads are loaded with Lupine ... they are wild over there.

My Foxgloves are the "show-stop" of my spring garden.
I let them re-seed freely and they pop up a different location every year ... but they never grew as tall as yours.

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Your photos are so gorgeous, drthor, and I absolutely love the combinations of flowers with roses and clematis. They are all so beautiful.

The lupine grow wild in huge fields up in New Hampshire. When we visited it was hard to believe the beauty before us. Here's a link for anyone who wants to see just a bit of them: http://harmanscheese.com/Lupine%20Old.html

I'll try to save some of the tall digitalis seeds for you just to see if they'll grow taller for you. It's no loss if they don't. The lupine are never as tall as the digitalis but they're still remarkable in the gardens.

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

thanks

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

My pleasure.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Blue Bonnets are lupines and that's TXs State Flower. They are annuals. I don't know about any other types except they are legumes so their roots produce nitrogen.

Talihina, OK

Rained all night here last night and 5 days of sunshine is in my forecast so I think by the end of the 5 days should get a good mess of Asparagas HOPE HOPE

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