I have to be very honest. As a kid, I absolutely hated the taste and the nasty smell of the slimy green spears mom made us eat. I disliked Brussels Sprouts, but Asparagus was even more vile to me!
In my 30s I was watching my favorite Garden Show, called, The Victory Garden, and they aired a cooking segment on preparing an Asparagus, three cheese egg omelet. I like cheese and omelets, so I thought I’d give it a chance. I went to the store and purchased a bundle of fresh Asparagus and the other ingredients. I cooked the omelet for breakfast one morning and the taste of the Asparagus and three hard cheeses was incredible! I had fallen in love with Asparagus (at least in an omelet with cheese!) As with many fruits and vegetables, I thought my own freshly grown Asparagus would be even better!
Asparagus is an early spring time perennial that can live up to 20 years. It is sometimes grown in flower beds because the ferny leaves are very ornamental. The plants can grow up to 6 feet tall. There are male and female Asparagus plants. Many feel the male plants grow larger and do better, producing more spears. They enjoy lots of sunshine and deep, rich soil. Many like to add well composted animal manure to the soil before planting. Asparagus are purchased as root crowns. Newly purchased crowns should be soaked in water for about half an hour. Dig a trench in the soil 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Place the crowns in the trench around 18 inches apart. Add a couple inches of soil on top of the crowns. Watch for growth and continue the process of filling up the trench until the trench is full of soil. If you grow Asparagus in rows, they need to be at least 4 feet apart. In the spring, top dress with compost and apply nitrogen fertilizer. Good drainage is very important! In Ohio, Asparagus can be planted late April to late May. The best Asparagus varieties to plant are Jersey Giant, Jersey King, Jersey Prince and Jersey Knight.
You need to be very patient with Asparagus. You can’t harvest the spears in the first year because you want the plants to develop strong root crowns. The second year, you can harvest only the larger spears for a couple of weeks. By the third year, the 3/8 and larger spears can be harvested up to two months. To harvest, snap the spears at soil level. Wait till late winter to cut back the foliage. The foliage helps protect the crowns from the cold.
If you are like me, maybe you didn’t appreciate the taste of Asparagus. I encourage you to give it another try. I’ve heard roasted Asparagus with cheese is to die for!
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