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How to Prepare Asparagus Plants for Winter

asparagus image by Unclesam from Fotolia.com

Asparagus thrives in rich well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. This long-lived perennial produces for up to 10 years and requires relatively little care. With an annual application of balanced fertilizer, like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12, in early spring before new shoots appear and an application of high nitrogen fertilizer in July after your final harvest, asparagus grows vigorously in home gardens throughout the U.S. It may require supplemental watering during hot dry spells but typically produces well under normal rainfall.

Cut the tops of asparagus back to ground level once foliage has turned yellow or brown. Although it is not necessary unless your asparagus is infected with insects or disease, cutting the tops back may inhibit disease and improve appearance.

Mulch lightly with two to three inches of organic mulch, like leaves or hay, to protect the crown from heaving during natural thawing and freezing during winter months. A blanket of snow provides the same protection, but damage may occur if your area freezes without the benefit of snow cover.

Remove mulch in early spring before the first shoots appear.

Care Of Asparagus Plants

Fertilize asparagus in the spring during the first three years of growth. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 12-12-12, and apply at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. Switch to fertilizing after you finish harvesting, usually in June, in the following years of growth. During the first year, regular deep watering helps the roots to establish. Provide supplemental water when it rains less than 1 inch per week, especially during fern growth in the summer. Keep the asparagus bed free of weeds. Remove the whole weed with a hand trowel, taking care to pull out the roots to prevent regrowth. Your county extension agency can advise on diagnosing problems and treatment or disposal procedures. The mulch prevents weeds, helps maintain a consistent soil temperature and conserves moisture.

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