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Friday, July 4, 2008

ASPARAGUS


ASPARAGUS

Asparagus beds can be productive for 35-40 years if you keep the soil fertile and the weeds under control and the asparagus beetle at bay. So how do you go about this and why am I talking asparagus when you can only harvest them until the peas begin to bear sometime in June?

Preparing your bed is the start and if it is prepared properly you will have many years of superior eating. To start with, asparagus grows best with liberal applications of fertilizer. That fertilizer can be well-rotted manure or compost applied at a rate of one bushel to 30 square feet. Once a year you should spread a good 10-10-10 fertilizer, 1 ½ to 2 cups over every ten feet of a row. You can apply this late fall or very early in the spring – or even just after you finish harvesting your asparagus.

Another hint, allow asparagus tops to stand over the winter to catch and hold snow. This helps prevent deep freezing and sudden changes in soil temperature. Moisture added by melting snow is important to the shoots that produce the following spring. Once spring comes you can lop off the dead tops.

You can begin cutting your asparagus about mid-May, every other day if temperatures and moisture are favorable. Allow your bed to keep its foliage until it dies down naturally in the fall.

How soon can you harvest asparagus after you’ve started your bed? If it was started well, a few spears may be cut by the second year. It may be cut for several weeks the third year, but you shouldn’t harvest a full crop until the fourth year.

Some of the best growers now advise breaking, rather than cutting asparagus, according to Jerry Baker in his book 1001 Old Time Garden Tips. There is no danger of injuring the crown with this method the shoot will not break in the tough stringy part, resulting in perfectly crisp, delicious asparagus.

Now what about that pesky asparagus beetle? You should go through the patch daily with a pan of hot water, and shake the young asparagus heads that have the insects on them into the pan of water to destroy them.

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ASPARAGUS SALAD

1 lb asparagus juice of 2 whole lemons

1 head romaine lettuce ½ cup of cream

1 lb mushrooms ¼ tsp of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Clean and steam asparagus until tender-crisp, cool quickly in ice water
  2. Arrange lettuce around a large platter
  3. Clean and thickly slice the mushrooms
  4. Make dressing with lemon juice, cream, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir mushrooms into the dressing, remove with a slotted spoon.
  5. Put mushroom in middle of lettuce, surround with asparagus spears—tips pointing outward. Garnish with carrot curls, cherry tomatoes, and/or English walnut halves.

Serve cold with dressing on the side.

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About the Author

Billie A Williams is an award-winning, multi-published author her

Accidental sleuths solve crimes with wit, wisdom and chutzpah

http://www.billiewilliams.com

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