weed infested asparagus patch

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by IntensiveGardener, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Hi all,
    I'v recently had a mojor problem keeping my asparagus patch weed free over winter.
    I planted the asparagus last spring from 2 year old crowns. I dug in almost a foot deep of manure, limed the soil heavily (it had Ph. 5.5) and all 80 of the crowns i planted came up and grew well. I mulched it with straw & manure and during summer i grew a companion crop of green dwalf beans amoungst them and weeds werent a major problem.

    Now the patch is completely infested with sorrell. It has sent its roots everywhere and covered most of the bed. Ideally i'd like to grow a cover crop over winter and spring. I'm not sure how to get rid of the sorrell :-(
    If i pull it up by hand i will miss most of the roots and it will grow again. If i mulch it, it will just come through the mulch. Unless i mulch it really deep!.
    I'm scared to cultivate it with a hoe in case i hurt the asparagus crowns.

    Does anyone have any experience erradicating this weed? Normally i control it by digging the soil when preping it but this is not possible in this case.
    any ideas would be great.
    thanks,
    IG.
     
  2. Comfrey

    Comfrey Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    Do you mean the kind of sorrel you can eat?
    (The sorrel soup, salmon with cream and sorrel sauce, salad with sorrel, braised sorrel, sorrel instead of spinach kind of sorrel...?)
    Would it be possible to look on the bright side and see sorrel as your cover crop? Or do you think it is competing too directly with the asparagus? In the wild asparagus grows out of all sorts of leafy foliage and under trees quite happily.
    Sorry if these comments are not that helpful, I guess if you've planted 80 crowns you mean serious business.... :)
    Just a thought.
    Otherwise I believe salt is worth a try.
     
  3. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    Is your asparagus still in fern production phase, or past it?

    If the asparagus ferns are past producing food for the roots, what about burning the weeds with a propane torch, then heavily mulching?

    I have red sorrel here, and it can be mulched out of existence IF you keep the mulch deep enough.

    Sue
     
  4. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    Thanks for the responses guys,
    Comfrey,
    I beleive the sorrell is edible but not very paletable. I am worried about it competeing becasue
    a) the asparagus is young and still getting established
    b) it is everywhere
    and
    c) i'v found that growing asparagus here requires lots of fertilizers or compost in order to get tender, non-woody shoots, and i fear i will be mostly feeding the sorrell.

    The point you make is a good one though, I will consider using Sorrell elsewhere as a ground cover. It eventually kills most other weeds here and certainly makes good chook food. :).
    I'm not too keen on salt. I understand asparagus and celery are not "salt loving" but mearly "salt tolerent" plants, despite popular misconceptions.

    Sue,
    not a bad idea.
    Any idea how sensitive/hardy the plants are when dorment? Maybe i could run chooks or cultivate very shallowly before mulching.
    How deep should the mulch be in this case? I'm prepared to contribute lots of resources to the asparagus mulch, providing i'm not just encouraging the sorrell. :)
    IG
     
  5. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    IG,

    Here in the tropics we burned off the asparagus fern twice a year. Normally asparagus fern settles/is planted about 200mm deep. If the fern is dead it can be burnt with no detrimental effects from my experience. It was a great way to clear the patch.

    I dunno if this is a wise practise in the first year but we had 2 seasons here per annum with serious drought happening annually, it really suited the asparagus. Sorry, cant help you with sorrel.

    cheers,
     
  6. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    I read somewhere confrey is a good companion plant as it has deep roots and does not compete with asparagus roots, and as the comfrey plant is great at stopping weeds and is quite low compared to the fern's. I think it also feeds the asparagus with composting leafs. Only down side to comfrey is keeping the water up to it if you are in a dry area.
     
  7. kathleenmc

    kathleenmc Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    Hi IG,

    The sorrel you describe sounds like 'sheep sorrel' Rumux acetosella...called as such as it often comes in with sheep manure. It is bloody hard to eradicate, but eradicate you must to get healthy asparagus to grow....it's a gross feeder of nutrients and a space invader and will out compete your plants. It is also an indicator of something missing in the soil as well....most 'weeds' are indicators for something missing in the soil makeup and they are growing there to aleviate it. Maybe some research on what sorrel brings to the soil would be necessary.

    It is an antioxident and is used in herbal medicine....so it could be used as added value maybe, if you do some more research on what you can do to sell it off?

    I would tread carefully with the comfrey idea as well as it is also a great competer for nutrients and for space (although it does have great qualities as well). But from my experience it can easily get out of control if you can't mow around it or keep it to the fence line as a barrier for grass. Definitely grow it to add as a nutrient from the leaves for composting or for chook feed, etc.

    I agree with Sue....take out as much as you can....before seed heads appear and then heavily mulch....at least 15cms if not 20cm. The asparagus should be able to handle it as it is dormant now. I usually give the asparagus I have a doona of straw for winter.

    Goodluck with it, Kathleen
     
  8. Cosmic

    Cosmic Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    Sorrel a weed!? I am still wating for that. It keeps dying on me and I keep re-bying it. It's looking ok at the moment and is about 20cm accross. Wow, can't wait until that is a weed instead of nutgrass.
     
  9. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    How deep did you plant the asparagus? If it's about 200mm deep, you should be able to dig carefully with no harm to the crowns. You might even want to put a dab of paint or tape on your spading fork to mark the depth you should not exceed.

    Sue
     
  10. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    I planted the asparagus about 150mm deep.

    I decided to cultivate it very shallowly with a hoe,
    i first marked out the location of the crowns and avoided chopping them but i hope i havn't done their roots any harm.
    Then I covered the bed in about 15cms of straw.
    If this doesnt work i'l remove the mulch, weed it again, then mulch deeper.
    Cosmic,
    Its not always a weed.
    I'v always thought that a weed was just a plant growing in the wrong place.
    The type i have is obviously very invasive in my location and in my rich garden soil.
    If it were growing in my pasture or even under some fruit trees i'd be happy.
    If your sorrell is anything like mine then id advise that it likes generous amounts of lime. :)
     
  11. Paul Cereghino

    Paul Cereghino Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    Rumex acetosella is the one with the orange roots.. it is rhizomatous. Any fragment will resprout. I bet tillage won't work unless you keep it up all season (clean cultivation). I'd go for Sue's turning fork... pull out the roots before the ferny leaves get in the way, then scuffle hoe any survivors for a while, then put some cardboard under that straw and hand pull the survivors letting them dry in the sun on the straw surface. Rhizomatous weeds are a pain if you are growing high maintenance perennials... you loose most of your options once you plant. I have a friend who used to harvest wild asparagus from near ag ditches in the mid-west US (summer moisture). I bet it is competative in the right microclimate.
     
  12. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    perhaps you should wait until winter and the herbaceous asparagus dies down, then solarise the patch with some black plastic to kill the weeds.

    Asparagus should compete Ok with many weeds.
     
  13. plainright

    plainright Guest

    Re: weed infested asparagus patch

    mow it with a lawn mower...then round up later.
     

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