mulching asparagus

thomis(7)March 28, 2008

How soon after planting can I add mulch to my asparagus? I planted about 4 weeks ago. I added mulch yesterday. There was one small asparagus shoot coming up but all others were not poking through yet. I added mulch b/c the grass was starting to sprout around them. I read that asparagus benefits heavily from mulching but I hope I didn't add it too soon. Think the mulch will prevent it from coming up? I added a good 4 inches.

Also, I have two rows of asparagus so I decided to experiment... one row I added pine bark mulch, the other row I added hardwood ground mulch.

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hercules(PA 6a)

Thomis,

Asparagus is a tough plant to discourage...as long as you did a good job preparing the bed and gave your crowns the nutrients they need to get off to a good start.

That said, I would have advised you: 1/ to spend some time hand picking out that grass ('gus doesn't appreciate competition), and 2/ to mulch only with well composted humus and manure.

My concern would be mainly what you may have done to impact the Ph level of the soil as these mulches decompose. Perhaps you're in a better position to judge this, but I'm not one to use fresh woody mulch material around plants that don't do well in acidic soil...'gus being one of those. I'd encourage you to think about this, and wish you great success with your new bed of yummy 'gus.

Cordially offered,
Hal

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 5:59PM
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granite(z6 NC)

I'd recommend taking out the pine bark mulch if it is the "nugget" kind. The nuggets shift with watering and essentially butcher off any tender shoots coming up. Aged ground hardwood is fine. I like to mulch a new bed with ground pine bark fines as it really improves the water levels, adds organic matter to the soil, and is fine enough not to interfere with young plants. The ground fines are sold in 40 lbs bags at most gardening shops as well as Lowes, Home Depot, etc. One brand name carried here is "natures helper."

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 7:50AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry but mine is another vote for not using wood mulches in the bed. It's not beneficial to the soil bed or the gus in any way - especially 4" of it. Any one of the many organic mulches would be far more beneficial - straw, hay, compost, shredded leaves, leaf mold, ground fines, etc. I recommend removing it while you still can easily and replace it with something beneficial.

And unfortunately you do have to hand remove as much of the grass/weeds as possible and keep up with it.

Enjoy your gus. ;)

Dave

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 10:44AM
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larry_c(z6 Stl. Mo.)

yikes..hardwood mulch killed a 6 foot x 12 foot bed for 3 years until I removed it. Blocks everything. Both ways.

CrAzY LaRrY

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 2:15PM
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rockiecarol(4 to 3)

I also vote NO on wood mulch. You never know what kind of 'nutrients' you are getting, good or bad. Also, I believe that earwigs thrive in wood and overwinter more easily.

My neighbor says asparagus loves the moldy, rotten pieces from his corn silage pile. It works great as a mulch and feeds the asparagus. Not a lot of folks have that available, but I think you would have luck with alfala hay as a mulch too.

I don't mulch until after we have harvested all we want for a season though. It really is not much work to keep the weeds down during that time.

Be sure to clean off the mulch in late winter as the aspargus beetles overwinter there. I also burn off the patch in January or February to kill them. It seems to help.

Rockie

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 3:06PM
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thomis(7)

wow. so I guess I need to remove the hardwood mulch! not a problem. i only added it to one row. so the pine mulch is the ground pine bark, not whole nuggets. i'll leave that row.

i can't really see though how bailed hay would be good mulch, i mean I believe you but you must have to apple it pretty thick for it to create the barrier that is needed to prevent weeds.

and as far as compost as mulch goes, is that something you can buy in a bag as well? i've seen all kinds of mulch in bags. i used the black kow composted manure to work into the soil when preparing the 'gus beds, is that the same kind of thing you mean to use as "mulch"?

hmmmm

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 6:08PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Perhaps we are talking about 2 different goals with mulch, Thomis. Unlike with a flower bed where the soil is seldom disturbed once planted, the primary goal here isn't weed suppression. That is only a secondary benefit of mulching in vegetable/food plots. ;) And no mulch will keep down weeds completely - even thick plastic. And you will still have to do some weeding, some cultivating, side-dressing with fertilizers, etc. so you need a mulch that can be worked and moved as needed rather than something permanent.

The goal here is to protect the asparagus crowns, warm the soil, stabilize the soil moisture levels, add nutrients to the soil, and to improve the soil condition as it gets depleted over time. Thus the recommendations for the other materials rather than any woody mulches.

2-4" of hay works very well to do all of the above, mats down over time and decomposes to feed both the plants and the soil. Straw also is good tho it provides less nitrogen and is much more expensive down here so I use hay on all my gus beds adding a layer in the fall and topping it with another layer in the spring.

Compost can be bought in bags or made at home but it isn't the same thing as composted manure. Compost is a mixture of many different organic materials mixed together and allowed to decompose over time and is usually still quite coarse like chopped leaves or shredded bark would look - thus a great mulch.

The ground pine bark you are leaving is ok but is very acidic as mentioned above so don't overdo with it, ok?

Dave

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 6:38PM
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thomis(7)

Dave~ thanks for the clarification, I understand the concept. I'll leave the ground pine stuff and mulch the second row with wheat straw. It goes for about $4/bale here. I need to get a few anyway for the yard. Thats good advice. With the two rows just 5 feet apart, I'll be able to monitor the results and compare the effects of ground pine vs. wheat straw. Maybe I can learn something to share.

I did have soil tested before planting the 'gus and it was about 4.9 ph (pretty typical for our clays). I added pelletized dolomitic lime in with the compost and peat moss prior to planting so I assume the ph will come up. I'll test again next year and see how much the ground pine brought it back down.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 8:33AM
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engelmann01_comcast_net

I've multched between the rows with hay (leftover from fall decorations)but have been caucious until now to use directly on the beds... It just seems like the heavy mulch would impede the spears from coming straight up through. I have had a few crooked spears when they have met a stone as they were growing...so you are saying that this shouldn't be a problem? Also, should I use old, weathered hay or new fresh, fluffy? Thanks..also, here in NJ our soil is quite acidic...should we shy away from leaf mold? Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 6:48AM
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