Fresh Asparagus

Okay, this picture was from last Friday and I’ve just gotten around to posting it.

Our 3-year-old loves asparagus. Hooray! She has been boycotting lettuce since she was an infant, and I was worried that she wouldn’t like green things in general. Silly me, the kiddo eats pickled okra and regular pickles, and dove into the asparagus with gusto the other day. So much so that she asked for seconds. Unfortunately, her dad and I had already eaten the rest of that day’s harvest.

I planted my first asparagus plants in the one raised bed over ten years ago. Over the years I have patted myself on the back many times as I walked into the grocery store and saw the prices of fresh (or not so fresh) asparagus. Originally, I read that asparagus plants only live 4-6 years. From what I can tell, this is completely inaccurate. They will continue to return each spring, sometimes for decades or even…centuries. Ask my husband about the asparagus patch he used to drive past on his way to work…it was close to the remnants of a old farmhouse, crumbled to dust. The house was gone but the asparagus was still going strong.

Better still, asparagus doesn’t need much attention at all. Plant the bare roots in the spring, cover them with dirt, compost and a thin layer of straw, and wait two years. Sure, it sounds like a long time, but meanwhile, while you are waiting, establish creeping thyme and basil plants on the earth above. These are both excellent companion plants for the asparagus and together they will enrich the soil and encourage the asparagus plants to spread.

You will see some shoots within one year, even possibly the same year that you plant, but the significant harvests will not happen until at least 2-3 years after planting. Every few years I get a bug in me and plant a handful more of asparagus plants to further fill the bed. Two years ago, we planted a purple variety and they are now coming in like gangbusters. Huge, fat spears of purple asparagus that outshine anything you could possibly get in the grocery store. And they are so sweet, you could eat them raw. At least one or two spears are consumed before we ever make it to the kitchen. Yumm!

I give asparagus an “A” for: ease in cultivation and taste. Plant some today!