Friday, May 20, 2011


Every gardener should do themselves a favor and set aside an area for an asparagus bed. The rewards of this delicious perennial is without measure. It tastes nothing like the variety you pick up at your grocers. It's crunchy but not woody, sweet, without that acrid flavor found in store bought, and totally addictive. 

Asparagus beds take a while to get going, so if you plant some crowns this season (not seeds, but crowns - the little clumps with roots) you'll have to wait a year before the harvest. 

Mature Asparagus Crown
Some growers suggest waiting two years or even three. But the patience is so worth it. In the spring you'll see their little heads poking out of the ground and you just have to snap them off and toss them in a hot dry pan for a couple minutes to enjoy the best early vegetable of the season. The asparagus will be there again next season and the season after that and the season after that, for possibly up to 20 years or even more.

Homegrown asparagus is so mild in flavor that I add a very small amount of butter at the end of a two minute heat to caramelize the sweet sugars loaded inside the spears. This way, all you taste is asparagus, not a smothering sauce.  Simply delicious.

I noticed yesterday that Home Depot is currently offering small bags of perennial foods for under $10 in their gardening section. Each bag contained three items: rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries combined, or onions, garlic and horseradish. The grow-your-own food revolution is gathering steam and retailers are catching up. For under ten bucks now anyone can jump onto this bandwagon and take the first baby steps toward self-sufficiency. Perennial foods are really a great introduction to the fun.

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