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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Asparagus, Mulching

Can cotton hulls be used as mulch on asparagus?


Here is what Stu Campbell's book, Mulch It! (Storey Books, 2001) says about cottonseed hulls as mulch:

These hulls can be used most effectively around plants such as beans, which are suited to wide-row planting. Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer. Or you can wait until the plants have grown 3 or 4 inches high, then sift the mulch down through the leaves... Cottonseed hulls have a fertilizer value similar to, though not as rich as, cottonseed meal. Because they are so light, the hulls blow around in the wind.

Campbell discusses mulching asparagus with a choice of hay, leaves, straw, old manure, and compost for winter protection. You can leave these mulches in the spring, and the tips will emerge through the mulch. If you wish to extend your growing season, he recommends dividing your bed in 2 parts in spring. Mulch one half heavily with fine material like cocoa hulls, leaf mold, or ground corncobs. Leave the other half unmulched until shoots break through the mulched side. Then mulch the unmulched side. The half which was mulched earlier will bear a few weeks later than the other half.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has a web page on organic growing of asparagus crops which mentions other types of mulch (such as winter rye as a dying mulch and perennial ryegrass and Dutch white clover as living mulches) for this crop, applied at different times.

It sounds to me as if the main drawback with cottonseed hulls is their light weight. Otherwise, they should be acceptable as a spring mulch.

Date 2017-08-15
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Asparagus, Propagation

I planted young asparagus plants a couple of springs ago. This past fall, one of the plants produced fruits (small red balls like I've seen on Asparagus sprengeri.) I looked in my Hartman and Kester, but it did not mention means of using asparagus seeds to make more plants. Can this be done? If I left them on the plant outside all winter, are they still viable?


According to Franklin Herm Fitz in A Gardener's Guide to Propagating Food Plants, it is possible to grow asparagus from seed, but possibly not if the seeds have been out in freezing weather:
"Collect the red berries from two-year-old or older female plants, harvesting before the first frost. Crush the berries and separate the seeds by hand (the seeds are large, shiny, and black) or by immersing them in water. The pulp will float as the seeds sink. Dry the seeds for 2 to 3 weeks. In the spring grow the new plants in deep, loose soil. After one season transplant them to a permanent bed (...) in early spring before growth resumes or in the fall after growth has ceased."

Alternatively, as you probably know, asparagus roots may be divided and replanted, with the knowledge that each smaller root will take a year to become established so that it can produce a good crop.

Date 2017-07-18
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May 31 2018 13:14:08