Asparagus is one of the first vegetables in spring to grace our kitchen tables. An asparagus patch can be productive for 15 years or more if well-tended so why not plant your own bed of this delightful edible.
You will need:
* asparagus crowns (males are preferred)
* sunny spot
* composted manure
Asparagus is usually planted by crowns from mid-April to late May after the soil has warmed up to about 50 degrees. Male varieties like 'Jersey Knight' are better producers because they expend all their energy into producing a tender, abundant crop instead of producing seed. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil on the north or west side of the garden where it can remain undisturbed.
Dig a furrow about 6-8 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Add a layer of composted cow manure for a slow-release fertilizer. Place the crowns 1 ½ feet apart in the furrow on top of the manure. Rows should be spaced five feet apart to promote air circulation which will help prevent the spread of fungal diseases.
Cover crowns with two inches of soil, gradually adding more soil through the growing season until the furrow has been filled. Spears should emerge within one week in moist soils. Asparagus should not be harvested the first year and sparingly the second year. Let the spears develop into ferns which will help produce food for next year’s crop. The ferny foliage also has ornamental value and looks attractive when interplanted with the bright colors of zinnias or the soft pastels of cosmos.
RECIPE FOR CREAMY ASPARAGUS
2 c. water
2 lbs. asparagus
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 T. flour
2 T. butter
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. parsley
2 T. vinegar
1 tsp. dill
8 oz. sour cream
Cook asparagus; saute onion and butter. Add next 4 ingredients. Gradually add broth. Add parsley, vinegar, and dill. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and whisk in sour cream. Serve at room temperature.
ASPARAGUS WITH PENNE & TOMATOES
5 garlic cloves, minced 1 pt. cherry tomatoes Salt to taste
¼ cup olive oil 1 T. fresh oregano, chopped ¼ c. shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes ½ lb. penne pasta, cooked, drained
1 pound fresh asparagus
In a skillet, sauté garlic in oil and butter for 2-3 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1 ½ -inch lengths and cook in skillet for 5 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt; cook until heated through. Add parmesan cheese and mix well. Pour over hot pasta and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 4.