How to Winterize Asparagus Plants
Before the harsh winter weather sets in, a prudent gardener will work to prepare and protect perennial garden plants from cold temperatures. By insulating and protecting the plants, you ensure they survive the harshest weather conditions. Using mulch is an effective way to keep the tender roots of some vegetables warm. Winterize your asparagus plants in the autumn to ensure that you have a thriving asparagus patch the following spring.
Remove the tops of the asparagus plants with the pruning shears in the autumn, as they turn brown and wither. Cut the tops 1 to 2 inches above the crowns.
Add between 4 and 6 inches of mulch over the entire asparagus planting area, spreading it evenly to cover the crowns.
Remove the mulch from half of the asparagus bed very early in the spring, to allow the new asparagus growth to begin. You will see asparagus shoots come up quickly as soon as you remove the mulch.
Leave the other half of the asparagus bed covered in mulch. The asparagus shoots under the mulch will still emerge from the soil, however, they will emerge later, and this will provide you with an extended harvest of asparagus.
& How To Cut Down Asparagus Plants
Asparagus is usually planted in the form of bare-root crowns. These are 1-year-old clumps of roots with dormant buds that can be planted directly in the garden. Once asparagus plants reach their third year, you can harvest them fully every year, usually over a period of at least two months. Mature plants will begin sending up shoots in early spring, and continue doing so well into summer, depending on your climate. Continue to harvest asparagus until the new stalks become small and thin. Asparagus is ready to harvest when spears are 6 to 8 inches tall. Cut stalks off at ground level with a pair of clippers or gardening snips. It is also possible to snap stalks off with a gentle, twisting pull.
Some gardeners choose a different method and opt to leave the asparagus growth untrimmed throughout the winter. As long as your asparagus plants are healthy, if you leave the growth standing through the winter, it will collect snow. The snow will keep the asparagus crowns warm throughout the winter. You must then trim the growth down to just above the soil level early in the spring, to allow for new asparagus growth.
- Some gardeners choose a different method and opt to leave the asparagus growth untrimmed throughout the winter. As long as your asparagus plants are healthy, if you leave the growth standing through the winter, it will collect snow. The snow will keep the asparagus crowns warm throughout the winter. You must then trim the growth down to just above the soil level early in the spring, to allow for new asparagus growth.
- Pruning shears
- Mulch (shredded leaves, straw or hay)
- Oregon State University: Winterizing Vegetables
- Sunset: Asparagus
- Harvest to Table: Asparagus Growing and Care Calendar
- Ohio State University Extension: Growing Asparagus In The Home Garden
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Answers to Frequently Asked Asparagus Questions
- NC State University Extension: Home Garden Asparagus Production