Asparagus Companion Plants – What Grows Well With Asparagus
If you want a bumper crop of asparagus perhaps you should consider planting asparagus companion plants. Asparagus plant companions are plants that have a symbiotic relationship, one that is mutually beneficial to each. In the following article, we will discuss the benefits of companion planting with asparagus and what grows well with asparagus.
Companion Planting with Asparagus
Companions for asparagus or any other vegetable must be compatible with each other. Asparagus is a perennial that likes a sunny area of the garden. They take 2-3 years to reach a full yield and, thereafter, produce spears for the next 10-15 years! This means that companions for asparagus must like sun exposure and be able to work around the semi-permanent asparagus.
Companions for asparagus may be those that add nutrients to the soil, deter pests and disease, harbor beneficial insects, or aid in water retention or weed retardation.
What Grows Well with Asparagus?
Asparagus companion plants may be other veggie plants, herbs or flowering plants. Asparagus gets along with many other plants, but tomatoes are notorious for being excellent asparagus plant companions. Tomatoes emit solanine, a chemical that repels asparagus beetles. In turn, asparagus gives off a chemical that deters nematodes.
Interplanting parsley and basil, along with the tomatoes, in close proximity to asparagus is also said to repel asparagus beetle. Plant the parsley and basil underneath the asparagus and the tomatoes alongside the asparagus. The bonus is that the herbs help the tomatoes grow better. In this particular companion planting quartet, everyone is a winner.
Other herbs that enjoy asparagus’ company include comfrey, coriander and dill. They repel insect pests like aphids, spider mites and other detrimental insects.
Early crops such as beets, lettuce and spinach can be planted between the asparagus rows in the spring. Then in the summer, plant a second crop of lettuce or spinach. The taller asparagus fronds will give these cool weather greens much needed shade from the sun.
During Colonial times, grapes were trellised between asparagus rows.
Flowers that coexist well with asparagus include marigolds, nasturtiums and members of the Aster family.
The most interesting combination of companion plants for asparagus that I have read about was asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb and horseradish. This sounds like the makings of a fabulous dinner.
What to Avoid Planting Next to Asparagus
Garlic and onions can be offensive to some people, and for those of you who abhor these crops, asparagus agrees with you. Keep them well away from asparagus in the garden. Potatoes are yet another no-no. Cross check and be sure that all the asparagus companion plants are friendly with each other prior to planting, as some plants simply do not like one another.
Companion Planting for Asparagus
Each plant species requires specific nutrients, has a preferred irrigation schedule, and produces a unique combination of chemicals released into the surrounding soil. This creates an influence between plants, and some plants making better companions with others in the garden. Asparagus, like all plants, has its preferences for what it likes and does not like growing nearby.
Beneficial Plants to Grow Near Asparagus
Asparagus is grown in a perennial bed, and it takes three to four years for the seedlings or crowns to grow a large enough underground tuber to support a crop of harvestable, springtime asparagus spears. Once established, an asparagus bed can remain productive for over a decade.
Because asparagus plants consist of a large and complex underground root system, digging deeply in the bed to plant other crops, or for weeding, can damage the asparagus roots. Whatever plants are grown with asparagus must be carefully planted as small seedlings in the spring or directly sown by seed.
Good companion plants for growing near asparagus include:
Tomatoes are usually best grown into sturdy seedlings in the greenhouse and then transplanted into the garden into well-prepared soil. Keep tomato planting holes outside the asparagus bed, so you do not dig into the root system while preparing the soil for tomatoes.
Parsley and basil can easily be grown by seed inside the asparagus bed by sowing seeds after the final harvest of spears in June. Fertilize the bed and plant clumps of parsley and basil seeds or seedlings about 1 foot (30cm) or more away from the base of the asparagus ferns, so they are easier to pick and do not get too shaded by the mature asparagus plants.
It is important to consider the amount of shade cast by the full-grown asparagus plants, reaching between 4 and 6 feet (1.2 and 1.8 meters) in height.
Although the ferns should be cut back in late winter or early spring, for much of the year they create a large block of shade on the north side of the planting bed. Parsley, basil, and tomatoes all like plenty of sunlight, so plant them on the south side of the asparagus bed where they will not get shaded out.
Plants to Avoid Growing With Asparagus
Root and tuber crops should not be planted in or near an asparagus bed. Planting these crops would require digging into the zone occupied by the asparagus root system, and these plants have different irrigation schedules than asparagus. Avoid these plants near asparagus:
If you experiment with other asparagus companion planting ideas, keep in mind asparagus likes large amounts of water in summer months, little in spring, and usually needs none beyond rainfall in winter.
+ Grows well with
- Basil. I was a bit surprised by this but I learned that asparagus does not like to be wet so having well-drained soil is important. Basil is very fond of water and will suck up all they can get so these two work well together.
- Parsley. Parsley is another favorite spice of mine but I have never grown it. When we move into our new house, I might have to make this part of the garden with the asparagus.
- Tomatoes. Again, part of the reason I think that tomatoes would do so well with asparagus is because of the water difference. Another reason is that asparagus is normally picked in late winter or early spring while both basil and tomatoes are summer through fall plants.
– Does not grow well with
The good news about asparagus is you can put anything beside it and the asparagus will not lose its longevity.
Companion plants for asparagus
posted 9 months ago
I'm reading Martin Crawford's book Creating A Forest Garden. He suggests underplanting asparagus with a creeping perennial for weed control. No suggestion of which creeping perennials work well for this. Or at least not so far, I haven't finished the book yet.
I think this is a really good idea. Has anyone tried it and what did you plant?
Not having tried this personally, my pick would be dwarf white clover. In addition to serving as a ground cover and competitor to grass, it would also fix nitrogen. It would also regrow quickly if disturbed when harvesting asparagus and be low to the ground so it would not cover the asparagus spears. Also a good pollinator plant.
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
posted 9 months ago
Homesteading Books for Beginners. Homeschooling Resources. http://byjillb.com
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posted 9 months ago
I'm reaching a point in my food-forest where nothing receives tender loving care but I'm also hitting that tipping point where nature takes over.
Last year I dug a large ditch just beyond the white peonies in the photo below and filled with a bunch of wood and debris. I then scattered wildflower seeds like yarrow and planted a few sunchokes.
I started Martha Washington Asparagus from seed and planted out a bunch of tiny seedlings in the freshly dug area. A bunch of them didn't make it (or I can't see them) but a bunch of them did. There are probably some hidden I don't see. I will go out and clear some of this up this weekend.
The asparagus plant that is the most vibrant was planted next to a baby Japanese maple that volunteered, and I re-planted. I also broadcast some clover and let it run. The plant you see in the picture has been trimmed quite a bit because it started choking out the maple.
In the large patch, I planted alpine strawberries next to the asparagus but Alpines are a slow grower.
If you use strawberries I would go for a full-sized everbearing variety.
My asparagus seedlings are being grown like they are wild. They are making it. With a little hand weeding, they would explode. I'm always nervous to keep things too neat with baby plantings because the wildflowers provide, shade, moisture, and refocus pests.
Don't do what I did and use mint and sunchokes. Yeah, I should have known. So to answer your question, my asparagus is growing with alpine strawberries, wildflowers, weeds, Japanese maple, and clover and they are making it. I think most ground covers would work.
Several other garden plants repel while attracting bees and other pollinators that help all of your garden plants produce more blooms and vegetables. Other companion plants for asparagus include:
- Aster (Aster spp., USDA zones 3 through 8)
- Comfrey (Symphytum spp., USDA zones 4 through 9)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Dill (Anethum graveolens)
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
By Erin Huffstetler | 05/02/2018 | 13 Comments
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Over the weekend, I planted a bed of asparagus up at the cabin. It’s something I’d wanted to plant for years, but had never had the room for. Being a fan of all things simple, I opted to plant my asparagus in a raised bed. It’s by far the easiest approach. Here’s how I’d recommend planting it.
When you order asparagus plants, you’ll typically receive one-year-old crowns with bareroots, like you see here. They don’t look like much. In fact, they don’t even look like they’re alive. But get them in the ground, and they’ll quickly prove themselves.
Asparagus plants are only available in the spring, so if you’re thinking about planting some this year, you need to get your order in soon. Like strawberries and peas, they can go in the ground as soon as the soil is workable.
Most asparagus planting guides call for digging trenches, making hills and doing all sorts of complicated soil prep, but if you plant your asparagus in a raised bed, you can skip all of that nonsense.
Each asparagus crown needs one foot of growing space. I wanted to plant 20 asparagus plants, so that meant I needed a 20-square-foot bed. That could have been configured any number of ways, but I opted for a 2’x10’x1′ bed. I just figured that would keep everything easy to reach.
Our friends had offered us some leftover lumber a while back, so that’s what we used to build our raised bed. Always stick to untreated wood for food beds. You don’t want chemicals to leach into your foods.
Since asparagus doesn’t like to compete with weeds, we bought bags of soil for our raised bed. It was a bit of an investment (we spent $80), but asparagus plants typically produce for 25-30 years, so I figure it’ll pay off over the long haul.
Most of today’s asparagus crowns need to be planted six-inches deep. To plant them in a raised bed, just fill the bed with six inches of soil (half way, if your bed is a foot deep).
Then, lay the crowns a foot apart, and spread the roots out around them, like you see here. Just to be super clear (because a lot of planting guides aren’t): the crown is that little nub that sits just above the roots. It’s where the asparagus will grow from. You want to make sure it’s facing up when you lay the plants out in your bed.
Finish by covering your asparagus plants with two inches of soil.
As the asparagus grows, continue to add soil, until you’ve added a total of six inches of soil. This will take you to the top of your bed, if it’s a foot deep, like mine. Add mulch, to help keep the weeds down.
Asparagus takes three years to reach maturity. Do not harvest any asparagus stalks the first year, no matter how tempted you may be. You can take a small harvest the second year, if you’d like, but be careful not to overdo it. In year three and beyond, you can harvest as much as you’d like.
To Maximize Your Harvest
Choose an all-male variety. I planted Jersey Knight Hybrid. Since it’s an all-male variety, it’ll put all of its energy into producing stalks of asparagus. This particular variety is also supposed to maintain tight tips, even if you’re a little slow to harvest it. Since were only at our cabin part-time, this sounded ideal for us. I’m anxious to see how it goes.
When to Plant Asparagus
Plant your asparagus in early spring, after the last average frost for your area has passed.
Companion Plants for Asparagus
To Deter Pests, Plant Your Asparagus With …
They’ll repel asparagus beetle.
To Maximize Your Garden Space, Plant Your Asparagus With …
To Improve Growth and Flavor, Plant Your Tomatoes With …
Do Not Plant Asparagus With …
How Much Asparagus Should I Plant?
Plant 10-12 asparagus plants per person in your household. Plant more, if you plan to freeze or can it for later.
Companion Planting: Asparagus and Tomatoes
Asparagus and tomatoes are a match made for organic gardens. Both plants release chemicals that ward off the pests of the other.
Tomatoes contain solanine, a substance that happens to be toxic to the asparagus beetle. The height of the tomatoes also creates shade that will help prevent weeds from growing around our asparagus plants. Asparagus contains a chemical that deters nematodes (a small worm) that are known to damage the roots of tomato plants.
Together, asparagus and tomatoes protect each other from common garden pests, creating a perfect match for your garden.
Add Parsley to the Mix
Both tomatoes and asparagus will grow more full when planted in a bed that includes parsley. It is best to plant the parsley before the tomatoes so the young parsley plants have a chance to get enough sun and establish themselves before the tomato plants grow tall.
What About Basil?
Basil is not know to help asparagus, but it does help tomatoes develop a more darker color and more rich flavor. Planting basil around the edges of your asparagus / tomato / parsley bed can benefit your tomatoes and provide bees from their beautiful flowers.
The Layout of Your Garden Bed
When you create a garden of companion plants, it is important to make sure they are not spaced more than 1 foot apart. It is best to plant them all in one giant bed so that they can compliment each other underneath the soil in addition to the benefits they provide above ground.
If you use the square foot gardening method, you can plant one tomato in one square foot, one asparagus every square foot, and either 1 or 4 parsley per square foot (depends if you want giant full plants or narrow smaller ones).
A checkerboard model of asparagus and tomatoes alternating can work well if the asparagus is planted before the tomatoes. This allows the young asparagus enough time to establish itself before the fast growing tomatoes spring into their full height.
If you include parsley into the mix, you can plant the parsley and asparagus together the winter before you start your spring tomatoes. Just put the tomato cages in your garden bed when you plant your asparagus and parsley plants. This will allow the parsley and asparagus to grow roots around the spikes of the cage, and not be pierced by them later when you plant the tomatoes.