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Asparagus bed design
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Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34535
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 21 1:41 pm    Post subject: Asparagus bed design Reply with quote
    

Hive mind!

I’ve got a frame to make a contained asparagus bed. It’s roughly ten foot by six foot and a foot high. It sits on the earth, which is decent soil but has been over grown. There’s been weed suppression fabric in place for 2-3 years but brambles, ash, docks, bind weed and nettles are never far away here.

I’ve got some very nice topsoil with blended compost and some nice (but lacking in nitrogen ) compost.

How do I make the bed? Mixture of soil and compost? Just soil? Do I leave the fabric in place, thus restricting both weeds and roots?

Tell me what to do! I shall reward you, in three years, with pictures of asparagus tarts. Or similar.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42728
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 21 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

dig the natural to open it up, dig in manure
use good compost to plant the crowns in the raised part

feed it lots, mulch it in autumn with manure,

cut sparingly yrs 3 to 5, after that take half the stems*

blanched under a bucket is nice

beware asparagus beetles very pretty, but they munch the tops and starve the crowns

*if you get older, bigger, better crowns you should get a small cut in year two and a proper one after that.
most commercial crowns need 3 yrs to be ready for a small cut
from seed, like i did, 5 yrs to first stems

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6316
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 21 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

As it will hopefully be decades before you would replant, is important to correct any pH issues now, and to make sure there's plenty of p and k for many years of growth.

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34535
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 21 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I did have asparagus near this bed before but it fell into disuse and then suffered land clearance. However, it came back year on year, fighting through the brambles.

I cannot grow rhubarb, the easier of crops. Therefore I am suggesting out local soil is conducive to asparagus.

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6316
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 10:16 am    Post subject: Re: Asparagus bed design Reply with quote
    

Nick wrote:
Tell me what to do!


Just not too much? or is it, just not if there is a soil test involved?

Another thing that's good to do to ensure survival and have opportunities to fight weeds as your new crowns get established:. Dig the trenches to their final depth, as whatever amendments, plant crowns, and only just partially rebury them. You can add the soil back to the trenches in shifts, with the last 1/3 maybe going back on after the spears emerge beyond what will be final soil level next year. Then start mulching in earnest.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42728
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

london soil seems to suit it, yours is red river silt iirc not that different to stirred up london clay

i do not know what the ideal ph is, lumps of chalk or sulphur or more gentle means can sort that

what slim said about P and K is important, plenty of "organic" is plant derived material in the soil for water/compaction issues is good

as the stuff is long term the bed needs to be deep and rich to start with and needs regular replenishment from above

pig derived deep litter would be ideal but compost and dried chook muck pellets will be ok

are you near the folk who grow commercially round there? the chinn family, as seen on telly etc ? chances are your soil and their soil are similar and need similar additions

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6316
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

It should perhaps be pointed out that the emphasis on p and k near the roots is that they are cations and don't move far in the soil solution before exchanging back on to soil or organic matter particles. Nitrogen often moves around as nitrate which will also cycle through organic matter but doesn't exchange on soil particles. I.E., nitrogen will leach down to the rooting zone, and thus can be resupplied from above.
Potassium is a bit more mobile, but there's not really much hope that you'd get phosphorus to move down through the soil when applying from the surface. (It complexes with iron and calcium fairly readily and drops out of solution)

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42728
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

diluted mixture onto a dry but "open" bed will get nutrients deep into the soil

top dressing with good rich mulch and feeding/watering with mid strength(yorkshire tea colour) mixture will keep it happy

it likes moist but not wet, it will tolerate dry but not thrive

beware asparagus beetles and prepare to battle them, soapy foam seems to work if you get em before they have done much damage, foam em hose them off

tis a tough plant but to be able to exploit that with a knife it needs to be pampered

sgt.colon



Joined: 27 Jul 2009
Posts: 7329
Location: Just south of north.
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

What bout the "no dig" option? Would that work for an asparagus bed?

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6316
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

You could sow seeds directly and just keep on top of weeds for the first few years.
If they were protected enough from the coldest weather than the crowns might pull themselves down over enough years. Some plants have contractile roots that can get them to the depth they want.
I don't know that this approach would work well though, so I would consider it experimental.

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34535
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 21 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

sgt.colon wrote:
What bout the "no dig" option? Would that work for an asparagus bed?


Last lot I put into a trench about 15fm deep and buried. Did nothing else bar harvest them. Worked very well. Might not be the highest yield but was minimal effort. Thought I’d go for better practice this time.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 14221

PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 21 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

If you have very clean soil, no dig might work, although perhaps not for asparagus. If you have other than just annual weeds, it can be a problem.

Interesting information about cation movement Slim. Thanks. I always understood that potassium was very mobile and would move through soil rapidly, so had to be applied only as and when needed. Have you any views on using charcoal (biochar)? I know it will absorb organic nutrients, but no idea about things like K and P.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42728
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 21 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

15 fathoms is getting to mixed gas territory

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42728
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 21 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

double dig the trench adding loads of manure, plant on that and build it up as deep as you can using well rotted mulch and plenty of feed

imho fluffy and open soil is important for asparagus so work to start it and worms to maintain it

beware the evil beetles

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6316
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 21 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Mistress Rose wrote:
If you have very clean soil, no dig might work, although perhaps not for asparagus. If you have other than just annual weeds, it can be a problem.

Interesting information about cation movement Slim. Thanks. I always understood that potassium was very mobile and would move through soil rapidly, so had to be applied only as and when needed. Have you any views on using charcoal (biochar)? I know it will absorb organic nutrients, but no idea about things like K and P.


K is the major cation nutrient that leaches the most, oyf I'm remembering correctly.
It has less 🧲 relative to it's orbital diameter. So weaker holding strength to CEC.
It's less important to front load than P.

Apparently some biochar can add quite a bit of CEC, but if you add it in a raw form, those sites are all empty, so it's like adding a dry sponge to a glass of water, and then wondering why you don't have water for your plant. Needs to be "charged" before being added.
I'm not convinced that biochar will outcompete lots of organic matter and correct pH in temperate soils like ours, however, at least in terms of crop response.

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