Storey Bulletin

Text Box with description of Book

    OK, so I have all this asparagus growing in the greenhouse, both green and purple. I still don't know what to do with it. Everything dies outside at this point, and I'm not sure anything will even be alive on this planet long enough for me to get a crop. But I take each day at a time, and plan for my new existence in whatever dimension when all this earthly horror is over. And I plan to take my farm with me. So there. Create your own reality. Dream big!!
    I grew up with asparagus. I grew up with so many wonderful plants, it breaks my heart to see what the criminally insane beings who control this planet have done to it. I remember my mother getting up in the early hours to go sit and weed the asparagus patch. In those days, we actually had a real sunrise every morning in the summer, and by 9:30 a.m., it was too hot to spend much time out in the sun. We grew so much on this land, that we could barely give it away fast enough. We would pick a grocery bag full of asparagus, sometimes twice a day, during its peak production. And this was not a terribly large patch.
    Anyways, despite my familiarity with this wonderful vegetable, I learned quite a bit from this little booklet. These are all still available at Storey Publishing. There's the page, and they are in alphabetical order, although the price has gone way up in the thirty years or so since I bought all of mine. Quite a collection, and they have added lots more. Here are some things I learned.
    Asparagus grows wild in many areas! It is found, in addition to the U.S. and Egypt, in England, Spain, France, Russia, Poland and many other countries. Didn't know that. And it has been around for thousands of years, even pictured on ancient Egyptian reliefs. The Greeks and Romans ate it and believed it had medicinal properties. Asparagus is candied in China, and the seeds are used as a coffee substitute, or fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage. The Dutch and Italians grew the purple variety which is readily available here in the states and grows quite well. And it is a member of the lily family! That I certainly did not know!
    It prefers sandy loam, but if you have hard clay like we do out here, you can add organic matter. When the production of spears slows down, the remaining ones produce tall fronds that can be used to shade other plants, such as lettuce, although we get so little sun out here in Northeast Ohio anymore, that is usually not a problem. Our old asparagus patch was off by itself, in front of the blueberry bushes, and it was packed quite tight with asparagus.
    Asparagus can be grown from roots or seeds. My current ones are from seed, which offers more diverse varieties. If you start the roots, you will get a crop sooner. If it grows wild in your area, you can dig them up and cultivate them. The spears will be skinnier, but tastier, too, according to the book. Ours were never huge, like some I've seen in stores, but their taste was divine! If you start from seed, they will require a couple transplants. Mine went from the pan in which I germinated them, to big tubs, where they are now.
    The book says they can grow up to ten inches in one day. We picked them before they ever got that tall, but yes, I will vouch for their speedy production. The book also says some roots may grow five to six feet down. That I can't vouch for, because in this clay soil, they most likely did not, even though we kept them well hoed. The book also notes that one plant can produce over one hundred spears in a season.
    The book then provides information on ideal soil pH, and how to correct it, as do most of these Storey publications that concern growing crops. They also provide additional care information and suggest several ways to plant them in their permanent bed. One of the ways, by using the trenching method at different depths, ensures a more extended harvest. The three of us, however, just ate it every day, plus canned it; (in these current days I would suggest freezing rather than canning). Plus we gave it away to neighbors. It produces in late spring, so there was nothing else really available from the fields and gardens at that time. In any case, we never tired of it. Here is an illustration I scanned from the book, using this trench method. Of course, as usual, lots of compost and organic material should provide needed nutrients, but as our soils, water, and air becomes increasingly more toxic from all the heavy metals being sprayed on us 24/7, every plant and animal on this planet is struggling to survive, and all the organic matter in the world will not change that.

The Trenching Method

Green

Green

Purple Asparagus

    Here are just a few more tidbits I picked up from the book. Asparagus can be eaten raw. I also liked to marinate it in a vinaigrette. Non-acid mulch works best with asparagus, which would be straw, grass clippings and well-rotted sawdust. Don't remove the foliage until the plant becomes dormant. We always removed ours in the spring as we prepared for the next crop, I believe. Asparagus comes in two sexes and the female plants only, produce berries, which can be removed as they appear, unless you are saving the seeds that will eventually result from the berries.
    The insect pests that affect asparagus are asparagus beetles, Japanese beetles, and slugs. Slugs are a terrible problem here now, since it never stops raining. When I was growing up, I do not remember having Japanese beetles or too many slugs, but I have them now. Japanese beetles are usually not too much of a problem, but when they are, I carry around a little can with a lid, with a bit of gasoline in it, then shake them off. Their natural inclination is to fall when disturbed. The game plan is to hit the ground and disappear, but a well-placed can prevents that. They die instantly, so there is no cruelty or suffering.
    But the asparagus beetles were always a problem. In fact, I believe that was one of the reasons I bought my original praying mantis egg cases, which have multiplied. You may view some of them here.
    A couple other points: asparagus and tomatoes are good for companion planting. Asparagus can also suffer from diseases, such as rusts and fungus. With as wet as everything is now, I would imagine that is much more of an issue. Back when I was growing up, the soil actually dried out normally in the summer. Asparagus likes lots of potassium and not too much nitrogen. The bulletin ends with some asparagus recipes.
    Below are some different colors of asparagus, which come in various varieties. We see some purple, a more traditional green, a lighter purple/white variety, and a pure white one.

Green

Purple Asparagus

White Asparagus

Purple/White Asparagus

All material on this site copyright © 2021 by Laughing Crow.
This site designed and written by Laughing Crow.