Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Own Asaparagus: A Perennial Green Vegetable

I love perennials. I especially LUV perennials that provide food: fruit trees, pecan trees, berry canes, grape vines, hipping roses, herbs.... and now, at long last, asparagus.

We planted the "crowns" (or in layman's terms "roots") two years ago. I bought them at Womack Nursery in De Leon, Texas: a small nursery specializing in local varieties of nuts, fruits and a few other things. They made their name with pecan trees & grape vines, and have expanded somewhat in recent years. I understand that asparagus grows wild in some parts of the country, but not down here, so we have to plant our own. In Texas generally, and our area specifically, it's critical to buy as close to home as possible to be certain plants can adapt to our curious micro-climates and nuanced soils.

So, we planted these along the back fence in the alley, and "they say" to wait until the third year to begin harvesting. We put 70 crowns in the ground, hoping that half would survive, and about 40 did. Probably more would have established if we had looked after them more carefully. Due to a combination of factors, they went untended for long stretches, including being completely abandoned for months shortly after planting, and going unwatered most of last year. But they are little troopers, and kept on sending up shoots and making fronds.

The spears in the photo are the beginning of our second batch. Have to check for new shoots every day (or they turn into ferns like those in the previous post) and will add them to the green bag until the weekend. Then we will have grilled asparagus for dinner!

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