Asparagus turning golden in Autumn

Simple winter maintenance for Asparagus

We have shown you how to plant asparagus, and after 5 years, how to divide asparagus, but for most winters, maintenance and getting them ready for sleep is all you need to do, and it is very simple.

>> Fronds turn golden brown in winter <<

The summer fronds that you have left to grow out to restore strength and energy to the crowns are now dying back, turning yellow and then brown.

asparagus turns golden brown in winter
Fronds have returned energy to the crown, and are dying down for winter.

>> Cut to ground <<

When died down, cut off at ground level, Please don’t be tempted to cut green fronds, as it will starve the crown and affect plant strength. Remove other weeds or competition like volunteer plants and generally clean up the bed.

>> Feed ready for winter sleep <<

Time to feed by spreading Blood and Bone over the bed (about a trowel full sprinkled around each plant) or compost or manure if you have it (about a shovelful around each plant) . With winter rain, this will give your asparagus extra va-va-voom to punch out lots of tasty shoots in Spring.

Blood and Bone to feed asparagus
Blood and Bone sprinkled over the bed.

>> Straw blanket and kiss goodnight <<

Time to blanket the bed with 5-10cm overage of straw to keep the feed in, the crowns well covered and protected from the elements, and weeds out – I chose pea straw but any type is fine – Sugarcane mulch is a popular choice, or local hay.

Pea straw mulch tuck in the asparagus for winter. There are a few stalks left, as I had just replanted these. They will be cut off.

Look wide; grow well, folks ๐ŸŒฟ

Sow flowers even in Winter for Pollinators

There are flowers we can sow even in the colder weather that will sleep happily and pop up just in time for sleepy hungry pollinators to get buzzy about, right there amongst the vegies. Here are our top picks for cheap and easy Level Zero flower seeds (the ‘just-chuck-em-in’ kind) to sow in Winter.

{psst: and a bonus this season – these three winter choices have edible blossoms, and look supercute on a salad or pretty garnish}

June – ALYSSUM

Like snow in your vegie beds, these pretty little flower mounds are a favourite for pollinators, self-seed like a champion, and boom even in hot summers when other flowers might struggle. The white variety are the most attractive to bees, and most hardy. If you have truly hideous winters, you may find they stay asleep for a while, but don’t panic…. they are just waiting for the right moment to spring to life.

July – VIOLA Johnny Jump-ups

Cute-as-a-button golden kitty faces of these wild little violas are lovely any time of year, but they can handle the cold too so why not put them in this month to get a Johnny July Jump on spring to come. With self-seeding if you leave them long enough, you’ll get another run of them from late summer through to bloom again late Autumn – excellent value.

August – CALENDULA

Prepare for cheery, sunny blooms of Calendula by sowing in August. Our local indigenous season is ‘Guling’ (Orchid Season), and though cold and wet, you’ll feel the season changing. Here in Victoria, the native orchids are on show, Wattle buds get ready to burst, male buck koalas can be heard bellowing at night, and caterpillars are fully on the march. Our early stone fruit blossoms may even burst early. In this weather, Calendular seeds will fair just fine.

~FROST~ These winter seeds are all pretty hardy, but if your place gets some serious Jack Frost action, then even just an upturned plastic ‘roller box’ type container over the top at night with a brick weight on top will be more than enough protection until they get going.

Growing Method for easy flower seeds:

With the chilly weather, these little babies will be happy to sleep, take up soaking rain and soil nutrients in their own sweet time. Sowing them is as easy as swapping or buying a packet of seed (just one will do – these are veggie bed flowers and will take up just a smidge of space), rip the packet, scratch up the soil with your dibber or the totally indispensable garden knife (or even an old fork), sprinkle seeds on the soil, scratch in again to cover, and walk away. Ground moisture and rain will water them.

Seriously the quickest way to plant your pollinator food flowers each month
  1. I made rough scratched rows with my garden knife to put the teeny tiny seed
  2. sowed the seed (nothing too precious, just guessed) and then scratched the other way to cover them but still leave mini furrows to keep them from floating away in any rain
  3. used some scrap twigs from the morning pruning of a bush to poke in around them to remember where I planted them, keep the birdies off and provide a mini wind break. Also if I want to cover with a tea towel on heavy frost nights, it grabs onto the twigs and won’t blow away.
  4. All in and ready for rain. If itโ€™s quite dry at your place, then a light sprinkle every other day til they pop up is enough.

Level Zero Asparagus

Asparagus is a Level Zero garden treasure.

It isn’t fussy, will likely grow without attention and pop up every Spring to remind you that you are still kicking goals.

>> Good for at least 5 years <<

THE GOOD NEWS: Asparagus is a perennial plant, which is different to the annual plants we grow that shoot, fruit, seed and die each year. Asparagus will live on and survive on very little, but if you want great harvests and do nix for it for a full five years, you can plan now to give these babies enough food and entertainment to last all that time, with just minor topup snacks in winter if you choose.

{psst.. if you are curious as to what happens after 5 years, then jump over to see Dividing Asparagus.}

>> Step 1: Make space <<

This step depends on where you intend to plant your asparagus. If it is in a new raised bed, then start with it mostly empty, or dig the row space down by about 30cm to start. In open ground, dig a trench about 1-2 feet wide and as long as you want the crowns to go, given they are planted about 40cm apart. Even just one plant in a pot on a balcony will use this method.

Plenty of space for hungry asparagus to thrive over at least 5 years.

>> Step 2: Think lasagne <<

THE BOTTOM LINE: We need a deep super-thick bed of organic material that these plants can stick their toes in and feast on for five years straight, but still keep the crown up higher than the roots so that water doesn’t soak and rot them.

Enter the asparagus lasagne – not the eating kind – the garden kind. It is a bit different to what most folks do but we find for beginner gardeners, it packs a punch and lasts the whole five years with no more fuss.

If you are super keen of course, there are always more ‘Level-Up’ options like incorporating Hugelkultur or Bandicoot Trenching but those stories are for another day.

The ideal planting plan for asparagus
The ideal 5 year planting lasagne for Asparagus.

BOTTOM LAYER: ๐Ÿ’ฉ๐Ÿฆจ๐Ÿฆด

The bottom layer of the trench is the rich stuff – manure of any kind ๐Ÿ’ฉ or pelletised Dynamic Lifter ๐Ÿฆจ or Blood n Bone ๐Ÿฆด.

MIDDLE LAYER: ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒฟ ๐Ÿฅ‘๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ„

The middle layer is the thickest – 30cm + of as much organic STUFF as you can pack in – we mostly use fallen leaves because we have so many after Autumn (โš ๏ธNOT eucalyptus or pine needles), but you can also use garden scraps (โš ๏ธNOT lawn clippings), kitchen scraps, old flowers, twigs, mushroom compost. This is what the crowns will eat for the next five years, so be generous. It will look like a lot but remember that it will all decompose and compact so really pack it in there. If you have access to fresh woodfire ash, then do add some of that and mix in too, or otherwise some garden lime, so that all that organic bulk doesn’t end up too acidic. Just a few handfuls per plant space. It’s not vital, but helpful.

TOP LAYER: ๐Ÿ—ป๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸคŽ๐ŸŒพ

This requires a mound of soil on top of the organics, so that the crown sits up above the roots, which have their toes down in the good stuff. Even when the whole lot compacts, the drainage will still work for us. Back fill over that with soil so that the crown is covered, and water the whole lot in to remove any large air pockets. This will be the last time you water them before they sprout in Spring. Top dress with a fist depth-ish of straw (any kind) and say goodnight. That’s it.

Crowns sitting on top of the soil mound, with leaves beneath.

NOTE THAT THE CROWNS ABOVE SEEM PLANTED UP QUITE HIGH
but all those organics underneath will decompose and compact, and the whole bed height will reduce sink. Each year, we top dress with more organics and straw, which effectively buries the crowns deeper each year.

>> Step 3: No Touchy!<<

There is just one down side to this delicious perennial marathon, and that is the asparagus have taken a hit and been disrupted in the planting, and whether freshly divided, or bought from a nursery and hence still very young, they will need a rest. This coming Spring they WILL sprout, but please just let them grow their fronds fully this year, to settle, grow new roots, and get one growing cycle in before we harvest. In Autumn, the fronds will turn golden again, and can be cut off ready to tuck in for another sleep.

When you are ready to Level Up, see more of our
>> Asparagus stories, here <<

Look wide; grow well, folks ๐ŸŒฟ
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