Asparagus is one of those plants that takes a long time to wait before you can harvest your first stalk.
It can take from 2 to 3 years before you can harvest it the first time.
So it makes sense to prepare your asparagus for winter each year so you can get a nice harvest and will not have to wait a few years.
How do you winterize your asparagus? By letting the foliage die, cutting back the foliage, getting rid of the foliage, spreading compost or manure over the asparagus, and covering the crowns with straw or leaves.
Read on to find some extra tips that will help preserve your asparagus for the next season.
Things to look out for with asparagus
Asparagus is a vegetable that takes some time to get started when it is first planted, but if you take care of it each year, it will give you asparagus for up to 30 years.
And even though the asparagus might only be ready to harvest during a few weeks out of the year, you still need to take care of it the rest of the year.
Taking care of the foliage
Asparagus plants actually give you big foliage as part of its growth process.
It is important to take care of this foliage before it causes problems for you later on in the year.
Since this foliage is so big, it is an easy place for rodents to hang out during the winter months.
So if you do not take care of it, then you can have rodents hanging out in your garden during the cold season.
Wait for the foliage to die
The foliage should begin to die during the first or second frost of the winter season.
You will know the foliage is dead because it will have a yellow or brown color and begin to fall down to the ground.
Trim back the foliage
To get rid of the dead foliage, use a pair of pruning shears to cut the foliage to about 2 to 3 inches tall.
This means you will have 2 to 3 inches of the asparagus plant still sticking out of the ground after you are done trimming.
Trimming down the foliage will cause the asparagus to go into dormancy so it will not try to grow back again until it begins to get warmer outside.
Also, do not water the asparagus plants until after winter is over.
This also causes the plants to go into dormancy so they will not try to grow.
Discard the foliage for now while you take care of the rest, depending on the size of your asparagus garden.
Get rid of the foliage
It is best to either throw away the foliage or burn it when you are all done.
There may be asparagus beetles hiding in the foliage or some disease pathogens hiding in the foliage as well.
So it is recommended that you throw away the foliage or burn it so the beetles will not stick around
You will be rid of any disease pathogens.
If you decide to burn the foliage, make sure it is a controlled burn in an area that is safe and will not generate a bigger fire that you cannot control.
Spread compost or manure of the asparagus plants
Once you have gotten rid of the foliage, now you are going to prepare the asparagus plants for the coming winter by helping them to stay warm, and that includes covering them with compost or manure.
First, prepare the area by raking away any remaining leaves or debris, and then throw the debris away.
Next, spread 2 to 3 inches of compost or manure around the asparagus stalks.
This helps keep the asparagus plants stay warms, but also helps to keep out any weeds from growing in the area.
Then, cover the crowns of the asparagus plants with 4 to 6 inches of straw or chopped leaves.
This layer keeps the crowns warm, but also makes sure that the plants are not suffocating during the winter season.
If you do not feel like covering your asparagus with leaves and straw, you can leave it up to nature to cover it with a thick coat of snow.
The thick snow does the exact same thing as the leaves and straw but is not quite as dependable as doing the work yourself.
If you know for a fact that you are going to have plenty of snow to cover your asparagus, that snow might just be enough.
But you might also want to do the work yourself so you do not have to worry if you are going to get enough snow.
When to remove the leaves and straw
Removing the leaves and straw at the end of the winter will allow the asparagus plants to receive more sunlight, and therefore allow the plants to grow more.
When the winter season is over, it is time to remove the leaves and straw from the asparagus plants.
But do not remove all the leaves and straw at once.
Start by removing the leaves and straw from half of your asparagus garden.
Then in a few weeks, remove the rest of the leaves and straw from the garden.
This will make it so that not all the asparagus is ready to harvest at once.
If you space out the removing of the leaves and straw by a few weeks, this means you will be able to harvest the asparagus a few weeks apart instead of all at once.
Therefore, you make your asparagus harvest last longer.
Some farmers also suggest throwing some Azomite on top of the compost and below the leaves and straw.
According to RedBudSoilCompany.com:
Azomite is a natural rock dust product that is exclusively mined in the State of Utah. Azomite is created from an ancient volcanic eruption into a seabed. Azomite is used in many different agriculture industries from growing vegetables to making golf courses lush and green.
Gardeners and farmers use Azomite for its micro-nutrient content. It doesn’t throw off the PH of the soil, and can help with some of the lesser needed nutrients in your soil.What is Azomite Rock Dust & How Do I Use it? – RBSC (redbudsoilcompany.com)
Azomite is a rock dust product that is rich in micro-nutrients that can help in sustaining your vegetables, especially when those vegetables are in the same place year after year.
Azomite will help by providing those nutrients to your asparagus plants every single year.
So, after you have applied the layer of compost to your asparagus plants, add a thing layer of Azomite to the compost.
It does not even have to be a layer, maybe just a dusting of the Azomite and that should be enough.
I found a few step by step videos that will help as well in the winterizing of your asparagus plants.
Here are a few: