Some of the plants gardeners are growing are common ones. Onions, cabbage, or carrots are in nearly every garden. But, there are those which are more of a rare kind. One of such is asparagus. In this article, I will show you a trick or two.
How to harvest asparagus and when is the right time to do so are the questions which are going to be answered once and for all. Stay with me, to learn something new.
What Is Asparagus In The First Place?
Although this vegetable has an amusing name and sounds like a brand of Greek cheese or decorative flower, the truth is that this is one unique and useful vegetable. Here are some of the facts about this funny named fellow.
As we can see, asparagus is one healthy to eat vegetable, and if you have decided to include it in your garden and nutrition, you are doing the right thing.
Since It Is Perennial, Can I Harvest It Right Away?
Unfortunately, asparagus is a vegetable which is best suited for those with patience. In the first few years, you can collect it, but the taste will not be as good as if you have waited.
The best results from asparagus are gained after about three or four years of growth. They are still edible in the meantime, but the best taste is from four years and onward. Of course, after those four years, it will continue to grow, so this is one more reason to have this beautiful vegetable in your garden.
So, What Will Be Required To Harvest Asparagus?
To bring asparagus to your table, nothing special will be required, luckily. Regarding equipment, you will need a good, sharp knife with a thicker blade. Bottom parts of this vegetable can get harder and woody, especially after a few years. It is best advised to have a knife with a wavy edge or sharp garden shears. Those which are used to cut roses will do the trick.
However, as I mentioned, the patience is crucial in growing this plant, so your harvest will start the first year when you will do nothing. I know that this is confusing, but when asparagus is planted, it mustn’t be disturbed. To settle well, there will be no harvesting in the first year.
Just water it, watch for the weeds, and that is it. This approach is because of its roots and bulbs. In case that you didn’t know, asparagus grows from bulbs, same as onions. Now, I have written about onions overwintering, and this is done so that bulb gathers strength and nutrients for the following season. It is the same with asparagus.
The First Season Passed, Now What To Do?
The second season is when the things are starting to change a bit. In spring, right after the snow melts, remove any remaining biowaste. This can be a good source of food for pests, so removing it will cut the pests out. As for the harvesting during the second season, just go easy with the shears. Cut only a few sprouts here and there, but don’t make an actual harvest.
I wanted to see what the taste is like and to give some space to the other growing plants. The second year is good for looking which plants are male and which female. Those which bear red berries are female, and thicker sprouts without berries are male. Regarding taste and harvesting, male vegetables are better tasting and are overall better advised to be harvested.
When the second season pasts, the third is the one when the harvest will be done. In case that you are confused, since I said that it is best when the asparagus is harvested in the fourth year, keep in mind that this vegetable is sown from one-year-old crowns, so the third season in the ground is the fourth year of age of the plant itself.
It Is Growing, May I Cut It Now?
Despite being one of the earliest plants in the garden, asparagus can’t be harvested anytime. Proper preparation and a keen eye are required so that you can assess when the time is right for harvesting.
When there are no frosts, and the Sun begins to warm up the soil is the usual time when the asparagus starts to emerge. With regular but light watering, keep an eye out for the length of the stem. Thickness is also important, because the older the plant is, the thicker the stem. When it grows between 6 and 8 inches, usually you can harvest it. Grab your shears, and let’s go!
So, How Should I Cut It?
When the stem of the plant reaches mentioned height and is thick approximately as the finger, take the shears and cut it at the line of the soil. This is not a rocket science, but it is essential to keep in mind that not all stems need to be harvested. Leaving some for later will continue the cycle of growing and strengthening of the plant going. Also, watch your fingers, mainly if you are collecting with the knife because it can slip from the hard surface, which can cause severe injuries.
Those spears which are left or missed and grew up to 10” should be left to continue growing. This is the circle I was talking about. In case that you notice stunted growth or lousy harvest, stop it, and let the plant gather some strength. In general, until the beginning of July is the time when you can harvest once in every two or three weeks. After that, plants should be left to prepare for autumn and dormant winter.
What Can I Do With Harvested Asparagus?
This is where I can leave everything to your preference. In case that you love crunching fresh asparagus, you can just be sure that you have washed it thoroughly, and that there are no dirt or smudges left. They can stay in the refrigerator for about a week, but if you wish to store them for the more extended period, that will require some preparation.
Take large kettle or deeper dish used for cooking. First, see if the spears can fit inside so that you can blanch them. The process is quite simple, fill the pot with water and bring it to boil. Add one tsp of baking soda, and add asparagus. Boil it for 3-5 minutes, not longer. After that, strain the water, pour a cold one and add ice cubes for faster cooling. This is crucial since the vegetables won’t continue to “cook” on the inside because of the heat. Dry the spears, put them into a zip-lock bag and squeeze all the air out, and put it into the freezer. Processed this way, asparagus can be saved for a couple of months.
There is a third option if you are a fan of the eastern kitchen. In China, asparagus is usually stir-fried, so this is another approach you can take. Use the fresh asparagus and treat it with heat lightly so that you will get one fantastic side dish.
When everything said is taken into consideration, it is clear that asparagus is not so difficult to harvest. But knowing exactly when and how to collect asparagus will give you the possibility to plan and think in advance so that nothing will surprise you. Of course, there are always some unpredicted situations, but overall, I believe that you will handle the job pretty well.
As always, feel free to leave a comment, opinion or advice in the comment section below.