Rock salt and asparagus

kept(6)May 30, 2007

Someone told me he contols weeds in his asparagus patch by sprinkling rock salt on the weeds. The salt is not supposed to hurt the asparagus because the roots are much deeper then the weed roots. I don't dare do it before chacking with some other folks who may have tried this.



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no, I wouldn't. Salt in the soil is what they do to kill all life in the soil, that would be really dangerous. Vinegar works. trim the weeds and spray vinegar on them.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:15PM
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That is an old time myth and you were right to be skeptical. Do not apply any salt to your soil because that is a good way to poison that soil. The Romans used salt eons ago to poison the soil of some of their conquered territory so the inhabitants of that territory would be totally dependant on Romans for food.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 7:14AM
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"Studies of salt application were often done despite the prevailing opinion that NaCl applications were harmful. The fictitious account about the Romans salting Carthage to destroy plant life led to misguided beliefs about the use of salt in agriculture. Studies on salt-sensitive crops like tomatoes and strawberries and roadside salt damage along highways reinforced an attitude that salt had no place in agriculture. In fact, plant physiologists have not identified an essential role for sodium in plant health and simply assumed that chloride, known to be essential for photosynthesis, was so highly available in soils that salt supplements were unnecessary." (Using sodium chloride to control plant diseases - W H Elmer).

Chloride is required by plants, but in tiny amounts and in special circumstances.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 9:46AM
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Well, back when I was going to University for Archaeology, we studied the cultures who's agriculture was doomed due to salts building up in the soil from the way they irrigated... the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates is an example. It WAS a long time ago... but hey, why chance it?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 11:48AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Fertilizer 'salts' are not the same thing as sodium chloride. You can create a build up of 'salts' in your own garden.....even in your container not watering properly.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:09PM
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fertilizersalesman(z6 PA)

Asparagus is very salt tolerant. It wouldnÂt surprise me that people salt their asparagus just enough to kill everything else. All in all sounds like a poor way to control weeds.

People tend to confuse Âsalt with table salt. Sodium chloride (table salt) is a salt, but it is not the only salt. Fertilizers for example are salts as is gypsum and anything else that is an anion combined with a cation. So it is important to specify sodium if that is what you are talking about rather than just saying Âsalt which can be any number of things.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:15PM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

Google salt, asparagus and you'll turn up contemporary articles from respected universities that say salt can be used for weed control, fertilizer and to suppress root diseases, and articles from other respected universities that do not recommend its use. So it's controversial. Because salt does contaminate the soil for other plants, and kills soil life, I wouldn't use it.

Interesting subject, historically.

"It was formerly believed that one of the most important ingredients of manures for the asparagus plant was common salt...Experience has shown, however, that while salt may not be harmful, there is no real fertility value in it.."

-"Fertilizers" by Edward B Voorhees, Prof. of Agriculture, Rutgers College, published in 1902

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:16PM
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In areas where rock salt was used for ice control on roads why did the vegetation along side those roads not grow then next spring if rock salt does not harm vegetation all that much?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:52AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

Weed then mulch well. Unmulched garden beds are, with very rare exception, a big no-no (IMO).

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 7:59AM
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fertilizersalesman(z6 PA)


Different plants have different salinity tolerances. Coconuts for example grow with their roots hanging in the ocean. Most plants (like those along side the road) do not tollerate high salt levels. Asparagus does put up with a good bit of salt which is why people have apparently used salt to kill weeds out of their asparagus patch. As a general statement I would agree that rock salt is not a very good soil amendment because it increases salinity without providing anything in the way of plant nutrients.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 12:19PM
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03/06/2012 In regard to rock salt on asparagus,I have grown asparagus in southwest Pa. for over 15 years. I throw rock salt,(rock salt only NOT calcium chloride or snow chemicals), on my bed every year as soon as the first shoots appear.I find the spears to be larger,juicier, and more robust than without. So far as "killing the soil as the Romans did",if the soil was dead the weeds wouldn't grow and there would be no need to toss on the rock salt. Just my experience.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Asparagus is a Maritime plant that does benefit from salt in the soil. My father grows it and "makes the surface of the soil white with salt twice during the growing season". He never really had luck growing it until he started using salt. Now, in a thirty square foot area he harvests sixty stalks A DAY during the growing season. As far as not being able to grow other plants in the salted soil, who cares. Asparagus is a perrenial that takes a couple of years to mature. You're not going to be rotating them out anyway. Set up a special place for it and make sure the salt can't drain into other crops.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:42AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

we mulch our asparagus bed heavily, we are first time planter and so far our seedling grew strongly, just about into winter and they are still very green.

to bolster the garden we have created a mini pile of green mulch material in the middle of the bed. in the pic the tomato's are gone now.

wouldn't use salt at all.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 4:55PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

There is a farm in my area that has used salt as a herbicide for their asparagus. It works but completely ruins the soil to anything but asparagus- for all time. So think carefully on it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 9:07PM
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As I stated in 2007 it is a myth that using rock salt to control "weed" in Asparagus beds is a good practice for organic growers. The salt will kill those unwanted plants and then eventually will kill the Asparagus. Asparagus plantings a bit north of here and close to the highways that do get a does of salt in the winter show problems with the Aspapragus growing near that highway, lower yields and stunted growth.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rock salt and Asparagus

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:52AM
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I live out in the middle of 24 acres of fescue. I have a 30'X 4' bed of asparagus that is 10 years old and yields over 70# of asparagus each Spring. Here is how: In January I weed eat the old fronds to the ground. I then throw a 4-6 inch topping of old compost on top and dust with a 12-12-12 fertilizer. In early April I use rock salt to make the ground white, concentrating on the edge of the beds to keep the grass from encroaching. Then I sit back and wait. There is no other maintenance. A second method would be to apply the salt in early July, but the fronds are 6 feet tall and application is much more difficult. I never have bugs, and I never have fusarium wilt. While the salt may provide some benefit to the asparagus, I use it to discourage grass and weeds in the bed. This is for asparagus only!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 4:08PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Asparagus competes poorly with ground covers (like weeds), but Na levels become toxic very quickly, and chloride is no better for plants at such high doses. Regardless of the fact that asparagus is relatively tolerant to NaCl, applying enough salt to kill genetically vigorous weeds is not something that university/ extension service sites recommend. Salt also causes a crust to form at the soil surface which interferes with water penetration and soil gas exchange. Anything positive salt applications might offer would be in the area of weed control, and certainly not in the area of nutritive betterment; so, it would seem that eliminating the salt applications and finding a less limiting method of keeping weeds in check would be in the best interest of plant vitality and yields. It looks like salt applications is choosing one of two evils. Whether or not it's even the lesser .....


    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 4:28PM
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I would never put sodium chloride on a soil with clay in it as it causes the clay to disperse ruining soil structure. Pore space lost, water infiltration rate reduced, that's the wrong way to go.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 7:26PM
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I read speculation years ago that the addition of ionic sodium may have released a nutrient cation (calcium?, magnesium?, iron?, another?) from exchange sites on/in clays and this nutrient availability was the beneficial effect.

But who knows?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2015 at 5:23PM
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There was a time that some thought that salt, Sodium Chloride, would help control
"weeds" in Asparagus fields or beds but that has been proven wrong.
Unfortunately there are some that do not stay current on these types of issues.

"Is salt beneficial to asparagus?

A. Applying salt to an asparagus planting is not beneficial. In years past, some gardeners used salt to control weeds in asparagus. However, salt is not effective in controlling many weeds, especially grasses. Plus, continued use of salt may result in high salt levels in the soil. High levels of salt may actually damage the asparagus planting. In the home garden, shallow hoeing or tilling is the best way to control most weeds."

kimmq is kimmsr

    Bookmark   February 28, 2015 at 3:55AM
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