I grow strawberries (Alpine) with our asparagus - natural companions and if you keep the strawberries on the south side of the bed, the asparagus give the berries a bit of afternoon shade. Both have flourished like this for several years.
In answer to the question on cutting them back - the huge 'mop' of upper growth that comes on the plants after you stop harvesting will create a lot of shade and while you may get some new spears in the spring if you don't cut back you will get a lot more if you do.
Regarding Dill near the asparagus - you need to be diligent on the issue of aphids with Dill as it is considered a "trap plant" meaning the aphids love it and will attack plants near it if they are not kept under control.
A homemade safe spray for aphids is 1 quart of water, a finger tip of dawn dish detergent and a drop of vegetable oil. You must keep shaking it to keep it blended. Spray in the evening.
Also I agree with Chris - besides issues of rust - if you holly hocks are happy they will be enormous and with their tap root difficult to get out if they are let go too long.
Hope these help.
I started pulling my little seedling hollyhocks last night, I have a lot to pull as I overseeded with the intent to thin. Was amazed at the roots on these little 1 inch seedlings. Catherine as you mentioned I can see how a mature plant would be a challenge. glad I'm doing this while they are still small. I like the strawberry idea, may put them in where the hollyhocks were.
Can I put hollyhocks anywhere in a garden? I think they are beautiful but will they bring the rust to everything? or will they be too invasive?
Hi there - interesting discussion!
You could dig up some of the seedlings and transplant them somewhere else; they do pretty well.
I havent had too much trouble with rust on them, but my garden is very sunny and gets little overhead watering. If you see rust, remove the entire stem it is on and carefully throw out; best on a non windy day. Also, you can help prevent rust by not wetting the foliage in the late afternoon, but since it is wind born, you cant really do much more as far as prevention goes, other than that and removing any infected plants/ foliage. Snapdragons are also rust magnets, btw.
Hollyhocks arent really too invasive as far as the root system goes, but they can be a nuisance when they drop alot of seeds and they come up all over the place. To remedy this, simply cut down mature plants before they seed too much. The plant will send up new growth that looks fresher anyway. Pulling out plants when mature is impossible, they are so strongly taprooted. They have to be dug out instead. I really enjoy them, in moderation!
After several years of letting the hollyhocks go wherever they wanted I am now trying to keep them in a specific area. The bees love them and the flowers are one of the edible ones so I want them in the garden just not all over the place and they freely reseed as Laura mentions. They do best in sunny areas and with good air circulation.
Chris mentions sequoia - another one is quinalt - both send out lots of runners, so the only downside to them as opposed to the alpines* is that you may need to keep them under control. When the sequoias and quinalts are happy they can be very happy sending out lots of runner babies. Keeping the runners cut off aggressively produces more fruit too.
*Alpines are an incredible package of intense flavor in a tiny berry - seeds germinate easily in the garden if kept moist. They are not aggressive runner producers. I grow white (actually called yellow) and red - the birds can't "see" the white berries, but they don't have the anti-oxidant levels that the red have. Look for seeds at the nurserys or online.
I never would have believed that you could get asparagas to grow here in the desert. How deap are your beds?
Is there a better variety for this heat and dry climate?
Hi Mary Ann,
We have grown both the purple and green varieties and both have done well as long as the bed did not get too much shade (we initially planted 2 beds and both of them eventually had too much shade from trees grown more mature).
Our current bed is set east to west with southern exposure and does very well. If you are familiar with the trenching method for growing asparagus it is the same here. You may still find "bare root" asparagus for sale here, but you will want to get the bed prepared and planted pretty quickly.
When planting any permanent edibles here in the desert you need to keep in mind that summer watering schedules need to be adjusted to accommodate the additional watering needs and likewise it needs to be cut back in the winter.
Hope that helps.