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One of the basic points of permacultural design and water usage is that bare soil is the single greatest source of loss of water in growing food. The principle of layering plants in space and time helps reduce the overall water consumption of a garden and also increase its productivity, as much as this goes against conventional (non-sustainable) gardening approaches. The overall goals are to prevent soil from being exposed, and ensure that plants mutually support eachother, and so forth.

I have been looking into applying this with asparagus, to reduce water usage involved in growing this food, but have been unable to find recommendations for plants to plant alongside (and given the spacing between plants, this leads to a lot of exposed soil). I would like to grow asparagus with as little external water input as possible. What can I plant next to asparagus to help cut down on the water loss, weeding requirements, and fertilizer requirements? I.e. how can I grow asparagus sustainably?

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I would think of ollas, which are porous terracotta pots with narrow necks that can be buried in the soil. They release the water gradually, and can be filled again when empty, making the use of water very efficient because almost no water is lost due evaporation.

I'm sorry, when I read about water loss I couldn't help but recommend ollas, I've recently discovered them and am enthusiastic about them. You can even improvise with some regular unglazed pots if you don't want or can't buy the olla's (glue the rims of two pots together, close the draining hole of the bottom one, fill them with water, bury but let the open draining hole visible, yet covered with a lid not to let dust go inside).

Yet I didn't answer your question. Try planting asparagus with strawberries and herbs. You don't have to dig to harvest and bother the asparagus this way.

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    The reason there's a minimum length for answers, is to avoid very short answers that give virtually no useful information: particularly when it's an answer that just links to information elsewhere. We're trying to build a body of awesome content right here, not links to content elsewhere, which could change or vanish over time. – EnergyNumbers Feb 2 '13 at 8:51
  • I apologize for that, my bad. – 0ana Feb 2 '13 at 10:00
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Mulching prevents a substantial proportion of water loss by evaporation, and it's clearly successfully used to grow organic asparagus. I've found that even just pulling out nearby weeds and piling them around my plants makes for a successful mulch, and there's no shortage of weeds around many gardens!

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