Asparagus in wet Willamette Valley?

tcstoehrApril 15, 2011

I received an order of asparagus from Nourse Farms a week ago on April 8th and planted it in beds I had prepared. I ordered Millennium and Jersey Supreme. Since that date those beds have been pounded by heavy rain every day. I expect this sort of weather every winter and spring. I'm wondering how the asparagus will cope with this.

My soil drains quite reasonably and there is never any standing water. This soil I can best describe as a heavy, sandy loam. I planted the asparagus an inch or two above ground level and will later add more soil and compost and mound it up to 6 inches above ground level. In effect, a raised bed. But it will still get quite wet down there, albeit well drained.

The question is, can I expect them to survive our seasonal rains?

How is your asparagus doing?

What can I do to help them not drown?

Cover the beds with plastic?

Straw mulch?

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The Oregonian reported today that mid-Columbia (eastern Washington) harvests have been delayed by repeated frosts.

There used to be commercial asparagus fields near Canby back in the 1960's-70's (Knight's Bridge Road). Even where we lived on NE 10th, a lot of asparagus volunteers came up in a corn field from former plantings.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 11:09PM
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That's good information. The thing is there's a huge variety of local soils. On my walk this morning I walked by one field what was muddy with standing water all over the place. But a mile away there was a freshly worked field that looked immaculate. I inspected some of this soil in my hands and it was extremely sandy, much sandier than at my house a mile or two away. I'm guessing drainage is key. That Oregon State web page on asparagus says Willamette Valley production is not recommended. I take that to mean that as a home gardener I'll just have to be smart about it and make some adjustments, just like everything else.+

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 2:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Garden centers here have starts every year. If your premise is that your area is fundamentally unsuitable for asparagus that does not seem likely - this is a very widely grown plant. Of course, as you say an individual planting site must be suitable - same as with any other kind of plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asparagus (edible) - Asparagus - Plant Finder-

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 4:25PM
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Re: above link:
"Make trenches 1 ft. wide, 8�10 in. deep; space trenches 4�6 ft. apart. Heap loose, manure-enriched soil at bottom of trenches and soak. Space plants 1 ft. apart, setting them so that tops are 6�8 in. below surface; spread roots out evenly."

Whoh Nelly!--REALLY?? Holy Cow!

No--No way...--You think?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:28PM
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You need to be lucky enough to live on former routes of the Molalla or Willamette rivers in Canby. A common gardener's phrase of yore was "Canby sand" when describing the garden soil. The other extreme is near Township Road right in town--very poor drainage in yards there.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 11:53PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Holy cow manure probably not needed.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:11AM
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I bought four dry dormant Asparagus roots at a well-known Portland nursery last spring. I thought it was really strange that the roots were allowed to completely dry out, so I asked them if they were sure this was OK. They said yes. I planted them in a raised bed of well-drained sandy loam soil. Nothing came up. Finally it late summer one weak little shoot came up. I dug up the bed a few days ago, and only one of the plants was alive. Have any of you had good results with the dry roots?

Also, I have never been able to germinate Asparagus seeds. I can germinate the most difficult seeds of lilies and native plants, so I'm not a complete doofus. Has anyone had good results with the seed? How did you do it?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 12:38AM
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javan(9b n. coastalCA)

I've had good luck with asparagus seed by following the instructions in the book Park's Success with Seeds. Basically it says to soak seeds for 48 hours in very warm water prior to sewing and maintain a temperature of 75-80 degrees F in the medium during germination which takes 14-21 days. (I used a heat mat in my greenhouse for this part.) I have a very successful asparagus patch in very sandy soil.

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden blog

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 1:43AM
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