Do you have an asparagus bed? The most surprising thing to me when I was finally able to fully harvest the asparagus from our beds (after waiting three years) was the difference in size. I thought they’d start out bigger and gradually grow thinner as the season wore on until they were smaller than a pencil – at which time I’d know to stop harvesting, hopefully after a few months.
However, this is my asparagus at the very first harvest of the season:
Some are as thick as tree branches and some are really too thin to harvest. But I do anyway, even if I just compost them, in order to keep them from growing and “ferning out” (this is just my personal term – I have no idea if anyone else uses it…) which is what you let the asparagus bed do when you’re all done harvesting for the season.
So, no, there is no real easy-to-follow “stop harvesting when the stalks are smaller than a pencil” guidelines with home-grown asparagus, in my garden at least. Now I use the six-week harvest guide to know when to stop, as well as if most of the stalks are too small.
I do love the first harvest, though! It’s usually the first vegetable from our garden for the spring (not counting any overwintered vegetables that may – or may not – have made it through), and I’m SO ready for it. Favorite way to cook it? Roasted with lots of garlic. Sigh.
In other asparagus news, no one’s ever asked how the great asparagus experiment of 2011 went. Shocking, I know. Could have to do with the fact that I never mentioned it again, because, well…I, um…
Shoot, you know where this is going, don’t you? Yeah, I never actually cut any of the asparagus down in July or in August! I think I forgot – I can’t even remember now why I didn’t – and I didn’t do it in 2012, either. But this year I’m going to aim for at least a fall harvest by letting one of my beds grow right now without harvesting and then cutting the ferns/stalks down in August. The stalks should grow again in September and October, if all goes according to plan.
And if I don’t mention it again, well, you don’t need to ask. You can probably guess that I didn’t do it – again. But third time should be the charm, don’t you think?
And if you have any asparagus tips for us, don’t hold back!