Asparagus is a perennial — every year, in early Spring, the shoots rise out of the ground, then by summer have fronded out into tall, ferny stalks that shade the ground.
By winter, the nutrients in the stalks have been stored into the roots for next year and the stalk dry out and wither.
To prevent asparagus diseases from gaining a foothold in the crop, we remove the stalks, shred them, then use the resulting mulch for chicken bedding and/or organic matter amendments for the rhubarb, which can’t catch asparagus diseases.
Today, the asparagus stalks were dry enough and the weather was decent, so we went out to clear the field.
Mochachino, the barn cat, came with us. With the stalks removed, she had a better view of the meadow voles’ holes in the field and spent her time ensuring that their occupants wouldn’t be munching on asparagus roots this winter.
While all the stalks are cut, we only finished raking and shredding about a quarter acre of the half acre field. If the weather holds this week, I’ll be raking and gathering the rest of the stalks into piles for shredding.