For me, the first harbinger of spring is when the plum trees bloom – in California that’s usually sometime in late February. The next arrival, and the one that confirms it’s no fluke, is asparagus.
Now I must confess that even as a child I liked asparagus – even when the only way to get it was out of the Jolly Green Giant’s can. I can remember opening a can and eating them just for a snack. So you can imagine how I feel about fresh asparagus!
Asparagus is a member of the lily family which also includes onions, leeks and garlic. It grows from a “crown” that is planted at least a foot deep in sandy soil. Asparagus has a short growing season only about 6 – 7 weeks (a bit longer in California) in spring and early summer. Under ideal conditions an asparagus spear can grow 10 inches in a 24 hour period. That’s almost fast enough to actually watch it grow! The outdoor temperature actually is what determines how fast asparagus grows and in warmer weather may need to be picked every day. Continue reading