What does young asparagus look like?
Identifying who are not the weeds.
Never having grown this before, I had a hard time trying to figure out which were the weeds and which were little baby asparagus sprouts. I know I pulled out many of them before I figured out they do not look like the spears that we steam and put on our dinner plates.
From the pictures you can see how different they are from what is harvested. They have a skinny little stem with fernlike leaves, almost looks like a carrot top at first. They grow taller kind of fast, almost making a hedge as they branch out with more feathery leaves.
At the roots more spears appear peeping their heads out of the soil. The rules are to let the shoots smaller than a pencil go on up and make seeds, if you take a look you can see the seed pods beginning to be formed as small green orbs about the size of a sewing pin head. They proceed to turn black before they fall off onto the soil below. If you squish them in you hand they crack open and have many many tiny seeds inside.
We harvest the fatter spears that are between 6-9 inches tall. Simply using a sharp knife I cut them off right at the ground and drop them into the basket. Homegrown steamed asparagus is very tender and sweet at the table. It is well worth the effort to grow.
A tall plant of the lily family with fine feathery foliage, cultivated for its edible tender young shoots, eaten as a vegetable and considered a delicacy.
I was beginning to think our asparagus in the garden would never get established. Just when I was about to give up, last year a few shoots arrived… just enough to win a stay of execution from me.
When multiple little heads popped-up early this year as the last of the winter snow was still melting, I was surprised and so glad we didn’t give up. We have had some really nice vegetables at our dinner table since. I look forward to more and more as the row seed’s itself now.
Asparagus patches are not for the “instant gratification” type of gardener cause you have to be willing to let this plant establish itself before you get any type of satisfaction from your labors. It is an addition to your garden that takes quite a while to become productive.
Patience is the key.
The story began 2-3 years ago, buying roots that are expensive (so are the seeds), with care the seeds seem to be the better way to go money wise. When the little guys first come up, they are feathery little shoots and it is really easy to confuse them with weeds. If they survive my indiscriminate weeding due to their foreign appearance, they eventually get enough root to start shooting up the familiar looking spears on the side the next year. I will make it a point to get some closeup shots to show you how the “young guys” look in the next post, hopefully you will be able to avoid my mistakes.
Planting asparagus is a worthwhile adventure to take in your gardening journey as long as you have enough patience to wait for the miracle, this fellow Inland Northwest gardener proclaims!