May 4, 2010

Asparagus: First of the Season

Today is a banner day: I had my first meal of steamed asparagus for lunch, so very delicious. Asparagus is as much a herald of spring as the daffodil; it is the first vegetable of the season to come from the garden. This is because it's a perennial; once the roots are planted, they come up year after year, producing their delectable crop. In the photo above, you can see the varied heights of the spears as they grow out of the ground; on the far right you can see a short spear with a brownish top, damaged by the cold weather of last week. The dried stalks are last years remainders which I haven't pulled up yet; instead of cutting the spears below the ground when I harvest them, I simply snap them off, which gives me only their tender part. It's less neat looking than cutting the spears, but it also lessens the chance of cutting a new spear below the surface.

Below is what the spears look like as they rise above ground, starting off a purplish color which becomes green with growth and sun. The asparagus harvest lasts for six weeks, at which point it is allowed to grow up into a ferny hedge, which feeds the roots for next year. To see a picture of the asparagus bed later in the season, click here.


  1. Have you tried asparagus sauteed in olive oil? My new favorite way to fix it! Cut each stalk in 2-4 pieces (split lengthwise if very fat) & just sautee until soft enough to enjoy.
    Spring also explodes with edible marsh marigolds, & fiddlehead ferns. I must remember to stop buying vegs. at the store!
    (Hi to Susan Sawyer if you happen to read this!)

  2. Gail, I usually just steam the asparagus, but sauteed sounds good, as does roasting with some olive oil, which another friend adores. I'm going to post, soon, an asparagus recipe discovery from last year: with a poached egg; it's surprisingly delicious.

    as for all those wild foods, I have to admit I'm not a fan. I've tried marsh marigolds since I have enormous numbers of them here (also a post to come) and didn't care for them, or for fiddleheads when I tried them. I guess that marks me permanently and irrevocably as a flatlander.

  3. Lol, Altoon, I must be getting to be too much of a city person (I grew up in the country, but I never knew that asparagus stalks just come up out of the ground like that!)

  4. Mona, I'm aware that many people don't know how asparagus grows and that's why I showed the photo of the emerging spears. So many folks have no idea where their food comes from and can even be convinced that velcro grows on trees.

  5. Love the emergence of asparagus! Where is mine this year? Just dig the fiddlehead walk and came home with enough for the week! Just delicious but does need several water changes to clear out the bitterness.

  6. As one who has never grown asparagus...Im impressed indeed Altoon!
    cant get much better than fresh asparagus frmn one's own garden!