>I am looking for ways to control weeds in asparagus other than pesticides.
>Would geese or chickens work? Are there alternatives? This is a large a
>large garden patch, not a commercial enterprise. (1/8 acre).
1. Salt water. Use about five pounds of common table salt to 30 gallons of
warm water, and water the asparagus with it. Asparagus is a salt-marsh
native and will happily tolerate the salt, whereas most weeds won't. This
used to be an accepted organic practice, but is no longer, because of
concerns about salt buildup in the soil in low-rainfall areas. I think the
threat is quite minor in moderate- to high-rainfall areas.
2. Plant the asparagus into a living mulch. We use Dutch white clover,
established in the fall. In the spring, the asparagus rows are furrowed
out, the crowns planted, and then Dutch white clover is reseeded over the
rows. Each fall, we broadcast more clover into areas that seem to be
getting thin. Very little weeding is required.
Asparagus is quite tolerant of weeds, though. If you till the bed shallowly
in the spring (before the asparagus starts to emerge and not so deeply that
you will damage the crowns), you will keep most perennial and annuals weeds
to a dull roar. A commercial patch might demand better weed control to
maximize yield, but you'll hardly miss the spears in an eighth-acre garden
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