Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

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Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

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Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

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How to grow strawberries and asparagus in the same bed and double your yields without chemicals. A well-managed perennial bed will continue to produce for 20 or even 30 years. The sooner you plant them, the sooner you’ll realize a harvest. Here’s what you need to know to get the most from these easy to grow perennials.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

Strawberries and asparagus are natural companions. Both are early spring crops that will begin to produce after your last frost date. They root on different levels to maximize the nutrient return in your garden. Both should be mulched to keep down weeds and to maximize yields.

Strawberries usually have a 4-year life span, but the plants runner, self-planting new strawberry plants in the same area for years. To prolong the lifespan of your asparagus-strawberry garden, you’ll want to pick varieties of strawberries that runner and manage the runners to keep them within the rows. Consider this before you plant your strawberry-asparagus bed for best results. I prefer midseason strawberry varieties for this application because they will give you a long harvest season but also give you runners to maintain the bed. Everbearing strawberries have a shorter lifespan and don’t produce a runner in the same way.

Some modern gardening methods recommend planting asparagus just 6 inches deep, but if you are going to companion plant with strawberries, plant your asparagus at least 12 inches deep, and plant your strawberries 4 to 6 inches deep. In this way, they will draw nutrients from different levels of the garden bed.

For the best results, it is important to choose varieties that were specially bred for your climate. Choose winter hardy strawberries for northern gardens. Picking a type that is sold by your local garden catalog isn’t necessarily a guarantee that the variety will grow well in your area. Do some research once you find out what is available. I purchased 75 Seascape strawberry plants from an Ontario garden catalog, but they didn’t survive my winter. When researching, after the fact, I found that this variety was bred in California and not exceptionally hardy. My zone is on the edge of its hardiness zone. I lost the plants in the second winter.

While you can grow asparagus from seed, you will have a more productive patch if you begin with 1-year-old or 2-year-old crowns and choose an all-male variety. Asparagus plants are either male or female. The male plants produce more spears than female plants. The female plants spend their energy in seed production, which curtails their spear yield the following spring. By choosing an all-male variety, you will have bigger harvests each spring.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

If you are subject to late-season frosts, pick a variety of asparagus that comes up later in the spring, such as Guelph millennium, which was extended a full week in trials, but produced more spears over the season. Frost that comes when the spears are up will kill the spears back, reducing yields, so in an area with late spring frost, later yielding varieties will be better.

Asparagus likes well-drained soil. Too much soil moisture will rot the roots. It likes full sun but will grow with some dappled shade. Pick your spot thoughtfully. Your asparagus will be growing in the same area for decades. You are going to prepare an area that is 10 feet wide by 20 feet long or around 200 square feet. You will have a space large enough for 50 asparagus plants and 75 strawberry plants. Placed on a gentle slope the bed will frost drain, protecting the plants from late spring frosts.

Twenty-five asparagus plants are enough for a family of 4 for the asparagus season. Fifty plants will give you enough asparagus to preserve for winter eating.

To prepare the area, remove all the weeds. Rototill the area or prepare it with a broad fork to loosen the soil. Add 4 inches of finished compost, 1 gallon of bone meal, and about a 1-gallon bucket of wood ashes. Fully incorporate these amendments into the bed. The initial planting time is your chance to amend the soil for long term harvests.

You’ll plant the asparagus first and then place the strawberry plants between the asparagus in the same rows. Later the strawberries will send out runners into the spots between the asparagus, filling in the area. But leave room to step inside the bed so that you can harvest both asparagus and strawberries in June and July every year.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

Plant asparagus in trenches. Mark 7 rows using a plumb line, to ensure that your rows are straight. Dig trenches 6 inches wide by 12 inches deep. Place your trenches 2 feet apart. Then mound the soil up inside the trenches at least 6 inches.

Soak your asparagus crown roots in compost tea while you prepare the trenches. They will take a long drink and be ready for the soil if they’ve had a chance to draw in some moisture before planting.

When you are ready to plant, drape the asparagus crowns over the mound in the trench, letting the roots wrap down on either side of the mound. Space your asparagus plants 17 inches apart with 7 plants per 10-foot trench. Cover the crown with dirt, until the soil is level with the ground.

Now place two strawberry plants in between each asparagus crown, 10 to 12 strawberry plants per row. Plant the strawberry plants 4 to 6 inches deep, ensuring that the crown of the strawberry is above the soil surface. Firm the soil in around the plants.

Water well. Then mulch with 4 inches of straw between the rows to keep the weeds in check and control the moisture levels.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

You can expect ½ to 1 quart of strawberries per plant beginning in year 2, or 35 to 70 quarts each year for your plot. Each year you will need to transplant the runners from your strawberry plants into the rows, and in year 4 remove the no longer bearing mother plants.

If you plant all-male two-year-old crowns, your asparagus should give you 15 to 20 lbs of asparagus each year, after year 4.

There is some loss to mold, weeds, and wildlife. Last year I had a wild grouse and her 7 baby grouse helping themselves to the strawberries. These yield calculations are just estimates and not guaranteed. There are a lot of factors that contribute to your actual yields. The nice thing about strawberries and asparagus is that you keep getting second chances every spring.

If you planted 2-year-old asparagus crowns, you would get your first small harvest in the 3rd spring after planting. Harvest only those spears that are at least finger thick. Harvest for 6-weeks and then allow the rest to grow into tall ferns. These ferns feed the root and prepare it with nourishment for the winter. Once the ferns die back in the fall, you can clip them and remove them from the bed.

By year four you will have a sizable harvest of spears and every year after that.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

Spring 1 Plant crowns in the prepared site

Spring 3 Harvest finger thick spears for 4 to 6 weeks

Spring 4 to 20 Harvest spears for 6 to 8 weeks

Once your bed is well established, you can expect 50 to 70 lbs of organic strawberries and 20 pounds of organic asparagus every year. Here in BC, both those crops are premium priced. That makes it well worth the effort to prepare the bed and get this going as soon as you can, once you have your homestead.

Replace the mulch between the rows every spring before the spears emerge. Mulch at least 4 to 6 inches deep and cover the rows with mulch around the strawberry plants. The asparagus spears will appear through the mulch. Mulch will keep the weeds down, retain moisture levels, and keep the berries clean and mold free.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

Pull any weeds that grow through the mulch and keep the bed weed-free. Water, only if necessary, to maintain soil moisture. Too much water will cause the ripening berries to mold.

Harvest asparagus spears when they are 7 to 10 inches long and are finger thick, by cutting or breaking them off at ground level. During the peak of the season, you may need to harvest twice a day. Harvest for 4 to 6 weeks in the 3rd year and then stop and allow the fronds to grow and nourish the root system.

Harvest strawberries as they ripen in the second year, and each year after that. Strawberries do not continue to ripen after picking so wait until the berries are entirely red before picking. Midseason varieties have a long harvest season of at least four weeks from mid-June to mid-July, depending on your last frost date.

Hand-pick slugs and other pests from the plants. Keep the bed weed free. Add more mulch if it becomes reduced by compaction or decomposition.

After the harvest, pull back the mulch on the rows and side dress the rows with finished compost and add additional straw mulch around the plants. Do this at least four weeks before your expected frost, so that the plants don’t have tender growth that will be damaged by frost.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

Plant strawberry runners in the rows and allow them to establish by the end of August. Remove any 4-year-old strawberry plants and replace with fresh runner plants. Allow asparagus fonds to die back before clipping and removing from the bed.

If you get reliable snow the winter snow cover is enough protection for the bed. If you don’t get snow, cover the bed with evergreen branches or straw mulch for the winter. You’ll need to remove this mulch from the strawberry plants in the spring so that the heavy spring rains don’t damage the plants.

Asparagus-Strawberry Planting in a nutshell

200 Square Feet of garden space 10 plants per 10-foot row 7 plants per 10-foot row

Expected Yields 35 to 70 lbs in 3rd year and thereafter 20 lbs in 4th year and thereafter

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

Years of yields 15 years or more 25 years or more

Total yields over the life of a bed 600+ lbs. 400+ lbs.

When we planted our asparagus bed, we interplanted strawberries with them. The bed was 10 x 20 feet, and held 50 asparagus crowns and 75 mid-season strawberry plants . The asparagus will extract nutrients from the soil at a deeper level than the strawberries, better utilizing the space and giving two crops that are ready early in the season before the other garden work is demanding.

We’ve placed this bed between two rows of apple trees, and the apples don’t mind the competition. Once the harvest is over, the asparagus and strawberry bed can be mulched well to reduce weeding. So far the experiment is working. We are getting three harvests from one space on an annual basis with very little work.

Consider placing a swale in contour on the uphill side of the bed to increase water retention and reduce runoff. Placing a swale on the lower edge of the bed will reduce the need for supplemental watering during the growing season, in dry areas.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

I hope you’ll try these perennials in your homestead garden.

You’ll like these posts on Permaculture techniques:

Making a that you don’t need to bend over to plant or weed

Use nature by learning around your property

I enjoyed this blog. I’ve subscribed. I will be I have an established row of asparagus. If the roots are already deep, do you think I can get away with adding a few strawberries.? That is my plan.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

I just got asparagus crowns and strawberries to try this year for the first time. I’m so glad I found your blog because now I’ll plant them together. I want to use a hugel bed I started last year, but it’s the mound style and looks different from yours that have sides like a box. I haven’t figured out the geometry of plant spacing in my bed since it slopes on both sides. It’s narrow with a pitch that goes from ground level to 2′ tall in the center. I was hoping to get a row down the ridge line and a row along each slope, but I’m worried the spacing is too tight for asparagus since they recommend 2′ or more between rows. Any suggestions for me? It’ll be a small plot: 10 asparagus crowns and ~30 strawberries. Thanks! I’m really excited to explore your blog in the coming weeks!

Hi, Lindsay, I think my spacing on the Asparagus crowns was 1 foot apart and 2 strawberry plants between each asparagus. The strawberries will runner and fill in. You want June bearing strawberries though because once the aspargus grows tall it will be difficult to find the strawberries in the bed if you plant ever bearing.

Great post! All the information is very helpful and interesting. My sister is considering to growing asparagus two years already and finally decided it. She already has strawberries, so it’ll be much easier for her now. Definitely recommending your post to her. Thank you for the good advises!

This is brilliant, and I’m going to try this method as soon as I can get my hands on some new asparagus crowns. We’ve grown both for years, but I never even thought to put them in the same bed.

Thank you for sharing, and have a lovely weekend!

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

I have major problem with ants eating my strawberries before they are ripe. Any idea to prevent this problem. I would like to mix them.

It does depend on the ants but I mix boric acid and just enough jam to make a paste the consistency of clay. And I put it in an egg cup from a cardboard carton. I place it where I see the ants coming out of the ground. This usually makes them move their nest. Or gets rid of them completely. If you have a different kind of ants I read that feeding them corn meal works.

We interplanted asparagus and strawberries together 2 years ago and so far they are doing great. We did a smaller version with 12 strawberries and 8 asparagus in a 8×7 semi raised bed. This winter we’ve had record breaking rainfall though and I’m worried they may rot :/

I grew seed starts when I first tried to get asparagus established at my place, but the weeds choked them all out. It was sad.

How does this work went you let the asparagus go at the end of picking season? Will the asparagus shade out the strawberries at that time?

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

I haven’t had any problems with shading. The asparagus ferns let in a lot of light. But I would plant June bearing strawberries rather than everbearing to minimize compacting the soil by having to stand on the bed during the season to harvest the berries.

I cannot homestead for various reasons, including that I work and live alone, but I do find a lot of helpful ideas on your site. I have just built some 4 x 4 raised beds. Can I grow asparagus and strawberries together in one of these? I live in the north of Utah, so I am guessing the varieties would be similar to what you grow in Montana.

Aparagus roots grow down deep, so if you can achieve a soil depth of at least 3 feet in your raised beds, you should be fine interplanting them with asparagus and strawberries.

Love this idea wish I would have came across it sooner, just planted 35 asparagus plants and 29 strawberry plants. Have you heard of planting chives with the Strawberries? I read that it helps keep the bugs away and a few other benefits for the strawberries. Thanks for the wonderful tips!!

Chives are excellent with strawberries, too. I have 3 chive plants at the lower part of this asparagus/strawberry bed, and garlic planted at the top of the bed. The scent confuses bugs and is supposed to prevent infestations.

Double Your Harvest: Grow ½ ton of Food in 200 Square Feet from One Planting

We planted strawberries and asparagus for the first time this year…but not in the same bed. However, if they do well, I might plant more strawberries in the asparagus bed next year. Thanks for the tip!

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