cutting back asparagus

sallyjoeAugust 13, 2011

This spring was the 5th year of our asparagus bed. We have 6 plants, and enjoyed many nice spears. However, the ferns are so tall and wide, that it is cutting off our view of the lake. I realize we planted them in the wrong place, but read that it is not a good idea to transplant. Would it be safe to cut the ferns back a little bit? What about all the berries? If I can cut them, how far back is safe, to insure asparagus for next year?

Thanks so much.

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The good news is that your asparagus ferns are tall and wide. That means that they are putting lots of nutrients back into the roots so that you should have a good harvest next year.

Cutting them back is not a good idea because then you are cutting back the plant's ability to store food in the roots for next spring.

I've never transplanted a whole asparagus bed, but the berries you speak of are seeds and will form new (small) plants. You want your plants to be about 3 years old before you begin a light harvest. Every year either birds or wind wind up moving those berries to another part of my garden and I (in the early spring) transplant them to my continuously enlarging asparagus bed.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 9:17PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I grew asparagus for years and eventually I cut them down every year at frost time, and I would use the cut ferns mixed with leaves to mulch them. In MN you'll probably be chopping them down in another month or so anyway. Just hang in there.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:50PM
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If you cut them back before the tops naturally yellow and die in the fall, a lot of the spears will grow now, in an attempt to continue to feed the roots. While you could actually get a small late summer/fall harvest this way, it really weakens the plant for the next spring. They can only produce some many buds in a season for next years stalks.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 1:12AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

use the berries to plant where you wished you had place the bed. After that bed is productive enough, you can get medieval on the original bed - try to transplant or cut down the foliage when it block your view, see how much they can take.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:17AM
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makete(U.P. of Mi.)

Raise the house up another story. LOL. JK.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:56PM
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Thank you so much, all of you. My daughter-in-law says her father cuts them to the ground after he finishes harvesting. I didn't think that was correct. I especially like the idea of planting the seeds, and moving the bed in that manner. It will take awhile, but I bet it will work. Thanks again everybody.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:07PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

To salvage some of your view, you can tie a bunch of the ferns together. I do this just to keep them out of my way and it seems that no harm is done. Nancy

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:43PM
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Mine are in 3 rows 5' apart. Left the ferns grow and made it impossible to weed in between the rows. I even had down weed fabric thinking that would help.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 6:35AM
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