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Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This year I planted some asparagus, I'm extremely excited about it, especially as I see the shoots sprouting out of the ground.
Asparagus grows wild in Idaho, or at least it used to. It was a family tradition when my husband was growing up to go out on the highway and find wild asparagus and bring it home to eat. A friend was telling me that they had the same tradition. Her dad wanted to be able to remember where the best asparagus patches were, so he made some special stakes to mark where it was, he placed them next to each patch, but where it was also visible from the road. Then each year, the asparagus hunt was very easy, they just looked for the stakes they had placed in the ground.
If you want to plant asparagus you won't be purchasing seeds or even bulbs, you will be purchasing roots. I opened the bag and was quite surprised to find 6 jumbled root masses, not knowing what to do with them, I had to do some research on asparagus. Luckily I did, because I would not have known that you don't even get to harvest your first year. You don't harvest any spears during your plants' first year in your garden to allow the roots to grow stronger and more productive. The second year you get to pick a few that grow about the size of your index finger, only harvesting for about a week or two. The third year, pick finger-size spears for two to four weeks in the spring. In the following years, harvest to your hearts desire, take all the finger-size spears you want, quit harvesting when the spears that come up are thin and spindly.
White asparagus is very popular in Germany. I have never tried it, but it is said to be more tender, milder, and nuttier than the green version. To grow white asparagus, you simply mound soil on top of it as it grows. It must be done almost daily to prevent it from being exposed to sunlight.
Is asparagus worth the wait? I guess I will just have to wait and see.
Top image from best room in the house