Posts Tagged ‘asparagus’

Asparagus – 25 Years Old and Going Strong

Sunday, April 6th, 2014
Asparagus Bed

Asparagus Bed

This is my asparagus, which I planted in 1989.  The picture was taken just before I cut down the stalks from last season’s growth.  A lot of gardeners cut their stalks back in the fall, but I’ve read several sources which say it makes more sense to let the stalks keep growing and feeding the roots as long as possible.  I normally cut the stalks back in March, but this March was too cold to want to do anything in the garden, so it didn’t happen until the first warm day of April.

Kama and Kneeler

Kama and Kneeler

In the past I’ve used pruning loppers to cut the roots back, but a few years ago I switched to chopping them off with my kama.  It makes the job lots faster and easier.  The cuts are more ragged than they would be with the loppers, but I haven’t noticed any problems with yields or plant health.

Asparagus Bed Prepared for 2014

Asparagus Bed Prepared for 2014

After cutting down all the stalks, I cleaned out any weeds and added ten gallons of compost.  Here’s the bed all smoothed out and awaiting this year’s harvest, which should start showing up very soon.

If I were to do this again, I would make the bed one foot narrower.  The bed is four feet wide across the top and just a little too wide for easy access.  Three feet across the top of raised beds proves over and over to me to be the ideal width.

Other than weeding and cutting back the previous years growth, asparagus is a pretty maintenance free crop, especially when you factor in its longevity.  It is important to keep it well weeded or grass will choke out and kill the plants.

Asparagus Roots

Asparagus Roots

The roots have wandered a little in the 25 years they have been in the bed.  Here are a few that have found their way to the edge of the bed and into the aisle.

Asparagus fresh from the garden is delicious and it looks like we’ll be enjoying this bed for several more years to come.

 

 

Asparagus Spring Onion Cheddar Cheese Scones

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Asparagus Cheese Scones

My favorite scone recipe is from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board – “Wisconsin Colby Cheese Scones”.

I think sharply flavored cheeses stand out more in this recipe so I usually use an aged cheddar or an aged Swiss cheese.  A little feta is good too, as is pictured above.  Sometimes I add herbs such as sage or rosemary.  Now during asparagus season cooked chopped asparagus and minced spring onions add a little extra ‘spring’ to the mix.

Substituting half of the flour with soft whole wheat flour also changes the flavor a bit.  You can use all whole wheat pastry flour but the scones tend to be on the heavy side although still very tasty.

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached or soft whole wheat pastry flour or a mixture of the two

2 tbl. sugar

1 tbl. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, aged Swiss or feta cheese

½ cup sour cream or yogurt

3 tbl. milk

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup olive oil

1 to 1 ½ cups cooked asparagus, chopped (any leftovers?)

2 tbl. minced spring or green onion

Additional milk, for brushing scones

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.  Add the cheese to the dry ingredients and mix lightly.  Stir in asparagus & onion.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream with 3 tbl. milk, blend in the egg and oil.  Add to flour mixture stirring until the mixture forms a ball.  Scrape dough onto a floured surface.

Knead the dough 15 times, and divide the dough in half.  Pat each half into a 7-inch circle.  Cut each piece of dough into 8 wedges.  Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with milk.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.  Enjoy with butter and/or jam.  Who needs bread in the house when these yummy scones take only a few minutes to prepare?

Quick and Easy Spring Meal

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Salad and Oven Roasted Asparagus

Judy and I enjoyed a great light meal last night that was mostly from the garden – a salad with a side of roasted asparagus.

The roasted asparagus recipe:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash & dry asparagus spears after removing woody ends.  In a large bowl pour in 1-2 T. olive oil,  mash in 1-2 crushed cloves garlic, 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt & freshly ground pepper.  Toss in asparagus spears & gently mix until well coated.  Place on a greased baking pan and roast for about 20 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.  We used about 1/2 lb. of asparagus, which was a good amount for the two of us.

The salad was mostly greens from the cold frame, some volunteer mustard and cilantro, and some spring onion.  Not from the garden are the walnuts, apples, and feta cheese, but it was mostly a homegrown meal.  The salad, topped with a shiitake vinaigrette, was just too good.

Asparagus Sauté

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Asparagus Slices

Asparagus, again?  We’re eating asparagus every day now.  I’ve been cutting asparagus tips since the end of April.  At first it was every other day, now it’s mandatory cutting every day.

For brunch last weekend we tried it roasted with baked eggs on top.  I’d never baked eggs sunny side up before –  pretty tasty.

Today, as a little side dish I chopped the asparagus spears into ¼” diagonal slices.  I used my western-style Santoku knife which made short work of it.  Noel bought this knife for me a couple of years ago and it has paid for itself many times over.

Santoku Knife

Anyway, back to the asparagus.  Heat a cast iron pan with a little olive oil, add the bite size pieces and sauté for 3-4 minutes on medium.  Season it with salt, pepper and lemon juice, or a splash of soy sauce & sesame oil or garlic or chives or …….  the list goes on.

It’s easy, quick and no worry about divvying up the spears for each person. 🙂

Planting Asparagus Crowns

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

I decided to reserve the far bed in my garden for a perennial planting of asparagus and thornless blackberries.  I picked up ten asparagus crowns at The Natural Gardener earlier this week and chose UC-72, the variety that they recommend for Central Texas.  I have grown asparagus before in Wisconsin, but the planting guide that The Natural Gardener provided had some useful advice.

Trenches for asparagus planting

The prepped asparagus bed, prior to planting.

First, I prepped the beds by digging two trenches in one of my raised beds about 10″ deep. Then I added some compost.

Asparagus Crowns

The asparagus crown laid out just prior to planting.

Planted Asparagus Crown

Asparagus crown over ridge in trench.

Before putting in the crowns I made a ridge down the middle of the trench. I placed half of the roots on either side of the ridge.

After I placed the crowns I covered them back up with about two inches of soil.  This still left the height of the trench a couple of inches below the level of the bed.  As the asparagus grows I will add the rest of the soil back, bringing the trench up to the original level.

Asparagus bed after planting.

Asparagus bed after planting.

It will take three years for the plants to reach full production.  This year I can’t harvest anything, and next year I can only harvest a few of the larger shoots.  I’ll extend my drip system to keep these plants thriving through the hot Austin summer so that they can build up their root mass.