Asparagus as big as my thumb!

I've spent the last few weeks worrying about our asparagus beds and wondering if the cold winter we had this year might have hurt the asparagus roots, or perhaps just delayed them a bit. You see, I was quite certain that I remembered harvesting asparagus (regularly) last year starting April 1. We harvested over 50 lbs of asparagus last spring and I was hoping to get an even bigger harvest this year, but it's now April 15, and so far we've only harvested a little over a pound.

Do you keep track of your harvests?

Last year I did for the first time ever. I created an Excel spreadsheet with a row for every day from April 1 through November 15 and columns for every plant that we have growing in our veggie garden. I was VERY, VERY good about keeping track last year -- everything that was harvested was weighed immediately and written into my harvest spreadsheet. I kept track of what was harvested: the variety, the amount (in ounces), and the date (totals by day, month, and year), so I have a pretty good history for the entire summer.

After eating a few fresh asparagus spears for dinner last night, it dawned on me that I had documented our asparagus harvest last year to the day and could easily look up how behind we are from last year. So, I did and apparently, my memory is completely wrong! We harvested our first batch of asparagus last year on April 11 and as of April 14, had only harvested a total of 2 pounds.

So, yes, we are a little behind this year, but not by much. WHEW!

Much of the asparagus that is popping up now is really thick. Just look at the photo I took yesterday (above) of a purple passion asparagus spear ... it's almost as wide as my (very wrinkly and in desperate need of a manicure) thumb! Which brings me to a question ...

Which is better, thick or thin asparagus?

I think many people assume that thin asparagus spears are younger and therefore more tender, but that's not correct. The diameter of the spears has more to do with the age of the asparagus plant itself & not the age of the spear.

Asparagus is a perennial that will produce for 15 to 20 years. For the first few years, you won't get much of a harvest and any spears that you do get will be pretty thin. As the asparagus crowns mature over the years, they tend to produce larger spears (and lots and lots of them!). A thin asparagus spear doesn't mature into a thick one in a growing season, it just gets taller. And, trust me, asparagus spears grow super quickly -- a spear can go from just poking through the dirt, to ready to harvest in a single day, so there isn't usually much time for it to grow thicker before it's harvested.

I think fat asparagus is a bit tastier

The thicker asparagus spears we grow seem to be more tender and flavorful than the thinner ones. They are not woody or tough in the least and I think they are actually more tender than the smaller spears. But, I don't discriminate! It doesn't really matter to me what size a spear is ... if it's fresh from my garden, I know it's going to be the best asparagus ever!

Fat asparagus is tasty!
Apr 15 2014
Posted in: Vegetables

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