Cut back asparagus

Don’t leave stems to collapse and provide a home for slugs!

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The taste of home-grown asparagus spears cut from the garden and cooked straight away is just wonderful and well worth the effort that goes into keeping the bed healthy and productive.

The harvesting season for asparagus is fairly short, from around the third week in April (traditionally St George’s Day, April 23) to June 21, the longest day. During this time the spears are cut every few days as they grow quickly in warm, moist weather. Once cutting stops, the spears are allowed to grow and develop into tall, feathery, ferny foliage. This is essential to help the plants build up energy and develop a strong root system, known as the crown, for the following season. In late autumn the dark green foliage starts to turn a butter-yellow as it naturally dies down for winter. When this occurs, the tall growth can be cut down and cleared to prepare the bed for winter.

If not cut and removed, it’ll simply collapse and rot down and provide a perfect hiding place for slugs, which love the new shoots as they push through in spring. Clearing the bed and leaving it exposed over winter will help to reduce slug damage and also give you the chance to control weeds that have grown over the autumn months.