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One of the Best Things About Spring...

Springtime at our Farmers' Market (every Thursday from 10 until 2, April through October) brings many things—lettuce, spinach, kale, baby beets and carrots. But perhaps the most anticipated harbinger of warm weather is the season’s first asparagus. When soil temperatures reach 50 degrees it won’t be long before those tasty shoots emerge from the ground, leaving no doubt that spring has arrived. Several of our Market vendors bring asparagus and those will be the first stalls I check when I get there. I’ll buy twice what I need—some to eat, some to freeze.
The word asparagus stems from the Persian word asparag, or sprout. The plant has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, and the people of Ancient Greece used asparagus medicinally, for soothing toothaches. The vegetable thrived all over the Eastern Mediterranean for hundreds of years, finally making its way to France during the reign of Louis the XIV, who loved it so much that he had greenhouses built just so he could eat asparagus out of season. Asparagus arrived in America along with the European immigrants of the 19th century.
If you want to grow your own, you can find asparagus roots available for planting in spring. All it takes is sun—and space. They are definitely space hogs. Prepare your soil about 12 inches deep. I’d work in a couple of inches of compost. Asparagus prefers soil with a neutral pH so I’d have that checked. When you plant the crowns, cover them with two inches of soil and space the crowns two feet apart.
Asparagus hates competition so mulch well and keep weeded. Don’t harvest any spears the first year. Allow the foliage to grow undisturbed. The second year, harvest no more than two to three spears per plant. Thereafter, you may harvest until new spears are no bigger around than a pencil—usually four to six weeks.
Besides tasting amazing, asparagus is really good for me. It’s low in calories and a great source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, iron, calcium and fiber. I don’t think about that when I drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle it with sea salt and lemon pepper before roasting in the over, however. I simply think about how delicious it’s going to be.
Posted: 4/15/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
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