Food & Entertaining - In Season
Grow these sweet and tender spears in your garden.
Asparagus grows fast and is ready to harvest when it’s between 10 and 25 cms in length—which can happen in just two days when the daily mean temperature is 25º C. Young plants (three to six years old) should only be harvested for 10 to 14 days; older clumps will tolerate up to 25 days of harvesting. Discontinue harvesting when spear diameters are less than one centimetre. Snap spears off at ground level or cut just below the soil surface with a sharp knife being careful not to damage emerging shoots. Asparagus requires little care over the summer months: enjoy the airy foliage, and when the first frosts knock it back, cut stalks off at soil level and compost.
Care from year to year is simple: in autumn spread a five-cm-layer of compost or composted manure around the crowns of the plants and scratch it in lightly. During the growing season irrigate during periods of prolonged drought and control weeds by pulling and hoeing. Asparagus beetles can be troublesome in some areas in summer; consult your provincial Ministry of Agriculture for effective organic sprays or hand pick beetles and drown them in soapy water. Removing asparagus berries (where spotted asparagus beetle larvae feed) will also discourage insect proliferation. Control rust disease by cleaning up and removing plant debris in the fall, and select rust-resistant cultivars.