Those of you who have been reading this blog for several months may remember that we lost about half of our garden in last year’s derecho. (See article.) A large tree fell across the garden and squashed, among other plants, all of our asparagus ferns. I wondered how this would affect this year’s crop of asparagus, and now I’m getting my answer.
The number of spears is definitely much smaller than it has been in the past two years, but we have had some asparagus come up. I’m happy to report that we enjoyed asparagus for dinner last night!
An acquaintance stopped me a couple of days ago to ask me some questions about her asparagus, and so I thought it was a good time to revisit the topic.
For any new asparagus growers. asparagus spears can be harvested the second spring after planting crowns, but make your first year’s harvest light – no more than two or three spears per plant harvested over a period of about two weeks. After the first year, you can harvest all spears that are at least 3/8-inch in diameter and about 6 to 8 inches tall. Let the skinny spears grow into ferns, and stop harvesting when most of the emerging spears are small, and the tips become loose and open. A typical harvest time lasts 4 to 6 weeks.
You can harvest spears by either cutting the spear at soil level with a knife, or, by bending the spear by hand until it breaks, leaving a bit of the spear sticking out of the soil. The latter is my personal preference because only the tenderest portion of the spear is harvested. Plus, no knife needed in the garden, and no trimming needed in the kitchen.
If you need to store your asparagus before eating, immerse the spears in cold water for a few minutes, then drain and refrigerate them in plastic storage bags. I’m told asparagus will stay fresh for about a week with this method. I’ve never personally tested that out, as we eat them as soon as they are picked!
If you’re lucky enough to have asparagus growing, enjoy the good eating! It’s a brief period of time, but one of my favorites!
Read the article I wrote about asparagus last spring.