Asparagus

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Asparagus officinalis

  • Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.  ( *Correction: This has been changed to the Asparagaeceae family–Wikipedia)
  • Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.
  • Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period.
  • Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.
  • The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking…early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours.
  • After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
  • An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.
  • A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
  • The larger the diameter, the better the quality!
  • Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamine.
  • Asparagus has No Fat, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium.

Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

 

Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavor, diuretic properties, and more.  It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 B.C.  Still in ancient times it was known in Syria and in Spain.  Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter.  Romans would even freeze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus, in the autumn.  Emperor Augustus created the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action.  A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’  third-century A.D. De re Coquinaria, Book III.

Water makes up 93% of asparagus’s composition.  Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium.  It is a good source of Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.  The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is relatively rich in this compound.

Asparagus is a useful companion plant for tomatoes.  The tomato plant repels the asparagus beetle, while the asparagus may repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato plants.

Wikipedia

 

So, we are awash in asparagus!

Our thanks go out to the former gardener of this farm who planted the asparagus.

Bruce picked the first stalks on Sunday, April 6th and they were so delicious and unbelievably sweet.  We were away for three days and when we returned we had a bumper crop of asparagus!

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We ate some more, and then Bruce thought since we had so much that we should freeze it.  Well…that’s something we’ve never tried before.  I got out our trusty book, Sunset’s Canning, Freezing & Drying,  and it said to blanch the asparagus for 2-4 minutes, cool them, place them in freezer bags and put them in the freezer.  Okay…well, we’ve never blanched anything either.

So…we either have the world’s supply of inedible asparagus, or a nice start to having asparagus for the whole year.

The good news is that the Master Food Preserver’s class starts this week and I’m thinking they will teach us this stuff.

(Edit: 3/22/2015; we have pounds and pounds of asparagus in the freezer.  We froze them in one pound batches after blanching.  They are edible after blanching and freezing, but not wonderful.  If I chop them up and stir fry them until they are browned, they are not too bad.  Maybe this year we will eat more asparagus and then try to freeze without blanching.  We know a lot more people now, so they may end up being the recipients of more asparagus than they can handle.)

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Keep bees and grow asparagus, watch the tides and listen to the wind instead of the politicians;

make up your own stories and believe them if you want to live the good life.

Miriam Waddington   Driving Home: Poems New and Selected,’Advice to the Young’.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Asparagus

  1. Great looking asparagus! Jealous! Maybe ours will look like that next year!

  2. Interesting information, thanks. I’m glad you mentioned paring asparagus and tomato plants. They seem to help each other grow! I’m going to give it a shot this year in my garden. I haven’t had much luck in the past with asparagus so crossing my fingers this time around.

    • I hope the pairing works out for you. We haven’t had any trouble with tomato nematodes or the asparagus beetle, but it’s a new garden and it should be interesting to see what goes on out there.

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