asparagus guilds

fruit_and_nuts(z6 TN)March 23, 2005

I would like to grow asparagus using the guild principle. Has anyone tried this? What plants worked? What plants failed?

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overrocked(SW USA)

I'm not sure which plants would work, since Asparagus needs free space to put up new shoots.AND doesn't like to be disturbed.

But for those who don't know the guild method-
Plants that perform the following function-

pest repellant
ground cover
nitrogen fixer

I plan on using hay for mulch, onions for insectary, dandelions for ground cover, Siberian pea shrub for nitrogen fixer. I'm not sure what accumulator means though-???? I have about 10 crowns to plant this year, since my 2yr plants died last year that I grew from seed didn't make it :( They dried out while I was away. I also have tagasaste for a wind-break! I wish you luck

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 4:14PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Accumulator refers to plants that mine deep in the soil for mineral nutrients, and the nutrients accumulate in the leaves. Cut the plants down, and as the leaves decay, the nutrients are released into the soil. Since they are released on top, they will be available for plants with shallower roots. Comfrey is an example of such a plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Comfrey

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 2:18PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I don't know anything about asparagus, but isn't it possible that asparagus is an accumulator?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 12:08PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

It's hard to find anything on guilds, and for asparagus, I suspect it's even worse. It doesn't like competition, nor being disturbed. It's a heavy feeder. I am going to try just clover, and see how that works.

On accumulators, you don't really need to cut them down. Trees can mine nutrients and "expell" them in their leaves if the leaves are allowed to stay. Imagine all the nutrients that are being lost when fall comes and everyone bags their leaves for the landfill!

Ipinkmountain, I don't think the roots extend deep enough for asparagus to be considered an accumulator, plus their leaves are close to being nonexistent, so if they were accumulators, very little would be produced above ground but a few sticks.

So much work needs to be done with guilds (information) that it really helps when people post what has worked and what hasn't. Much information has been lost from the "olde dayes", and it's like trying to invent something totally new from scratch.

Keep going -- we'll figure it out yet!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 1:30PM
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fruit_and_nuts(z6 TN)

Before posting this question I researched guilds and like Sue said, there is very little out there. But with the info you all have provided, and the great index in the back of "Gaia's Garden", I have come up with a plan. This summer I will amend the soil and plant a cover crop, then next spring I will plant my guild. I want something that looks nice, since I may locate this in my front garden. I plan to leave plenty of space around the asparagus, since everyone has told me they don't like to be crowded or have their roots disturbed.
Anyway here is what I have decided to try. I will let you all know in a few years how it works. It has to work better then just planting asparagus alone, which I did in my last garden, where I always had asparagus beetle problems.

Accumulator- Yarrow
Pest repellant- Calendula
Nitrogen fixer- Lupine
insectary-- lupine, & yarrow
ground cover- leaf mold
mulch- leaf mold

Since Asparagus does not like to be crowded I decided on leaf mold instead of plants for mulch and ground cover.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 5:22PM
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Hi all,
this forum is amazing. thank you all for posting.
this came from ventnor permaculture.
Tomato plants protect asparagus from asparagus beetle, something in the roots of asparagus kills a nematode which attacks tomato roots. Both like basil near to them. Asparagus does not like onions near it and possibly other members of the allium family.
I hope it helps. Have fun guilding.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 2:36PM
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I also am looking for ideas for guilds for asparagus. FYI Belgianpup, asparagus roots can be very deep, up to about 5 metres, although I've never heard of them being recognised as an effective dynamic accumulator.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 12:53AM
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Something like Sweet Potato may be a good Groundcover.
Planted 2-3 feet away their vines will cover a large area.
Sweet Potato will produce well if the vines do not root except for where the slips are planted.
thus they cover the ground but do not have roots close to the Asparagus, Other vines may be useful too.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 9:46PM
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the Pro's say you can plant asparagus 12 inches apart, but nothing else in the bed.
I understand interplanting, successions & relays, plant rotations, Companion planting.
Double dig beds before you plant.
Mulch-compost/leaf mold
Insectary-tomatoes,basil,onions out side of tomatoes not asparagus.
Ground cover- mulch
Nitrogen fixer- pea vine hay, clover hay,comfrey hay, you make hay by cutting the plants & drying them in the sun.
Do not plant any plant close to asparagus plant.
The pro's

Here is a link that might be useful: asparagus gardener

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 10:53PM
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I have been thinking about this given that my parents' asparagus patch has been having issues (I suspect both nutrient and weed overgrowth issues) for a few years and I started talking with them about this. Here are a few observations regarding what I am going to recommend:

1) Asparagus grows feral around here in orchards and seems to do ok. I suspect the shallow spreading roots allow it to take advantage of the leaf litter etc. However while the plant is relatively shade tolerant it seems to me that the fronds are likely to do better if they are above other plants rather than in the shade.

2) I don't believe it fixes its own nitrogen

3) Any time one can avoid bare soil, I think that's a winner.

So what I am recommending is as follows: a thin layer of compost every year (plants are established, not sure how deep I want to force the roots), combined with a nitrogen-fixing ground-cover like clover or trefoil. I am also going to be recommending taproot vegetables since they will pull nutrients from further down and at the same time aerate the soil when pulled. (so carrots and/or beets).

I don't know if it will work, but it will be a first try. Any feedback would of course be welcome :-)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:03PM
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Foodtomax(Mid North Coast NSW)

My experience is once asparagus is established it grows like a weed and even outcompetes the worst grass here kikuyu. I have found I have to baby it for 2 to 3 years and that by then it has established such deep fleshy roots that I couldn't transplant it even if I wanted to. I have palnted it in a range of niches so that I extend my harvest season. I picked a lot today. (NSW Australia)Cheers max

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 11:37PM
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homegrown54(z6 SE Ohio)

I'm as guilty as anyone of overthinking my vegetable garden. I'm just 'eaten up with it' as they say. Me? I figure that once I passed up buying pricey crowns and raised the seeds myself (they were so much more easy than I imagined), I'll just keep on making my mistakes and observe what they like, and stop doing whatever they don't like. First mistake I made (according to the experts) and time will tell. I couldn't resist eating spears off my second year plants. Didn't know the common 'knowledge'... oh well, I'm starting some newbies this winter, will transplant from the nursery bed of now 3-year olds in the spring and let the chips fall where they may. I'll feel 'em. I'll know what they want, and booger it up 'till I get it right! These babies are HARDY, and I daresay, will be forgiving of my fumbling. I'll just do it till I get it right. All the best, fellow growers. We're a special breed.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 3:23PM
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interesting discussion. fruit & nut, if you're still reading this, please report back about your experience.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:46PM
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herbal(z7 MD)

I created a successful asparagus guild with tomato and arugula. This is my perennial vegetable bed. Although I have to replant the tomatoes each year, tomatoes do not have to be rotated. Though I suspect I will get many volunteers.
Down the middle of the 4 ft wide bed I have asparagus planted 12" apart. The beds run East-West. On the southern side of the aspargus I planted tomatoes. On the northern side I planted arugula. Throughout the bed I have parsley, borage and basil. The bed looks great with few pests.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 9:43PM
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