Asparagus is a perennial plant that takes some time to grow. There will often be occasions when the harvest might not happen for up to three years from the time of planting the seeds. Asparagus is characterized by spindly leaves. The stalks come out of the soil surface in spring. The best feature of asparagus is that it will continually give a lot of good harvests over successive years. It also has attractive foliage, which is used for floral and ornamental purposes. Asparagus is usually grown in temperate zones, but it grows best in cool areas with long winters.
Companion Plants for Asparagus
Following is a list of the plants that would make for good companions with asparagus:
Planting basil on rows on the side of the border of the asparagus garden bed repels insects that dislike the oils of the former. It keeps away the likes of carrot flies, mosquitoes, whiteflies, and asparagus beetles. Thus, the aromatic nature ensures that no chemical intervention is required. It is a good option in case the soil is generally moist, and there is a minimum exposure of 6 hours to the sun in the region.
Similar to asparagus, sage is best grown in a location with full sun exposure. It grows year after year if it is properly taken care of.
Tomato is an excellent companion plant when it comes to asparagus. This is because tomato plants release a chemical named solanine into the soil, which helps to repel asparagus beetles. Similarly, asparagus helps repel root nematodes. Solanine is a bitter-tasting alkaloid saponin that can be isolated from all nightshade plants. Asparagus is an early maturing crop, and it can be harvested during the early part of spring. After the harvest, tomatoes can be planted on either side of the asparagus row. The advantage of this is that the tomatoes will become ready for harvest only later in the year and will not put the asparagus that is growing in the shade.
Eggplant is a perennial, warm-season vegetable that is classified into the nightshade family. Some of the common variants include the globe eggplant, white eggplant, Thai eggplant, Little Fingers, etc.
Since the asparagus grows up to be tall and leafy, it provides a welcome shade for the eggplants. They also repel nematodes, which are notorious for attacking the roots of nightshade plants such as eggplants. If eggplants are planted in the area where stalks were harvested in early spring, they will reinforce the nutritional content of the soil.
The optimum condition for rhubarb is where the winter temperature drops significantly. The requirement also is that the soil should drain properly and it has been treated well with organic matter such as composted manure. The rhubarb plant is a heavy feeder, so organic food rich in nitrogen would need to be applied. The rhubarb should be planted at the northern end of the asparagus patch so that it prevents shading. Another utility is that when the rhubarb stalk is being harvested, the leaves may be stripped and used as a weed-suppressing mulch.
Asparagus and strawberry would make for good companions. But you would need to ensure that the asparagus plant roots are at least a foot under the soil before the strawberries are planted. This is to prevent any competition for resources between the two. One or two strawberries may be first planted in between the asparagus crowns. The strawberries will ripen in a matter of a few months; while the first-year crop will be small, the following harvests should be more substantial.
Just like asparagus, strawberry too is a perennial that can keep delivering good crops for several years after the original planting. Another commonality is that both of them start shooting out of the soil at a similar time, during early spring. Consequently, they can both be harvested during mid to late spring. The strawberry also lies dormant during the time of the winter. Finally, strawberries also make a good ground cover for the asparagus, which helps to prevent weed growth.
While the marigold repels the usual pests such as asparagus beetle, and tomato worms, it is also known to keep rabbits at bay. Marigolds also keep flying and crawling pests away due to their odor. Once established in a plot of soil, they will also help to rein in nematodes. Marigolds are known to be allelopathic, whereby they release the protective compound alpha-terthienyl. The compound accumulates in the soil, usually by the second year of planting, protecting the plants around it. Of course, they add to the visual aesthetic of the garden and are wonderful plants to grow.
Horseradish plants are the most effective at repelling soft-bodied insects. This companion plant exudes several compounds that are responsible for deterring bugs. The plants can grow in either full sun or in partial shade, and hence they have no trouble growing along with the crowns of the asparagus.
It is an annual blooming plant whose flowers are frequently referred to as ‘trophies.’ The vines of the nasturtium grow fast, and they can shade the asparagus plant during the hotter days of the summer season. They also act as a deterrent for insects such as whiteflies and aphids.
Cilantro has shallow roots, and hence it is a good option for interplanting with asparagus. The cilantro flowers also attract beneficial insects to the garden. While the cilantro thrives during the cooler seasons, the warmer temperatures cause it to bolt. The tall fronds of the asparagus are useful to the cilantro as they prevent bolting.
Comfrey serves as a good protection against fungal disease. It also attracts pollinators to the garden, improving the chances of fertilization. It attracts beneficial insects such as the Tetrastichus asparagi, which is a natural repellent against the asparagus beetle.
Dill plants are a good companion for a lot of vegetable gardens because they attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantises, and wasps that keep away the likes of aphids and cabbage moths. It has a shallow root system and hence does not interrupt the growth of the asparagus.
Parsley is a good option in case you are trying to keep pests away. Parsley helps to keep asparagus beetles away from the main plant. The parsley may be planted in between the rows of the asparagus crop. The parsley is also a host to swallowtail butterflies, which are crucial pollinators.
Parsley is a delicate plant with a natural aroma, and it has numerous health benefits in its own right. It is beneficial for your kidney health since it stimulates the improved passing of urine. It stimulates renal functioning and improves the detoxification of the body. It is also useful in improving your immune system since it is rich in Vitamin C. It contains a chemical named apigenin, which is a strong antioxidant that is effective against several common viruses and bacteria.
What Not to Plant With Asparagus?
Plants that have deep roots would not make good companions for asparagus since they would compete with the latter’s root system.
Alliums are heavy feeders, and they absorb a lot of nutrients from the soil. Moreover, they take a lot of time to grow. Consequently, planting the likes of garlic, onions, or chives near asparagus would stunt the growth of the latter.
Potatoes make poor asparagus companion plants because they require much nutrition. These root veggies take all the nutrients from the soil without giving asparagus plants a chance to grow to their full capacity. Also, potatoes have deep roots and can potentially damage the root system of the asparagus. Therefore it is better to grow potatoes and asparagus in separate beds.
Carrots, regarded as long root vegetables, penetrate deep into the soil, soaking all the minerals they can. Since they are heavy nutrient users, they can steal away the minerals asparagus plants need to grow. Additionally, carrots can attract carrot flies that will eat asparagus plants if given a chance.
Asparagus is a plant that is indeed a good choice for the long run. In this article, we have covered all the plants which make good companions for it.