Spring Greens

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Asparagus Anyone?

Spring season means it's greens season -- and you will find no shortage of the good stuff popping to the surface right now in the Bird Back 40. Proof is offered to your immediate right. These are three of the fattest asparagus spears to ever sprout from a 4X4 raised bed that the wife that is Venus and I filled with asparagus crowns three years ago.

The bed produced a few tasty spears last year and then was quickly overtaken by weeds and forgotten up until two weeks ago, when I decided to clear a path through the weed jungle that had taken over a side yard to see what a season of neglect had wrought.

Now emerging: Tonight's Dinner!
Not to worry. The asparagus bed not only survived my neglectful ways, it also managed to recover from the Ultimate Digging Machine's (aka Bandi) attempt to dig a hole to China. Heck, I hadn't even fertilized the bed for a good six months! But as I began to chop and clear away at the neglect, one thing became abundantly clear: I may have neglected the asparagus bed. But it's not going to neglect us.

There's a bumper crop of fat and tasty spears from a myriad of varieties that we've planted through the years. Not all asparagus crowns survive the planting process, which is not a problem. If there's a bare spot there? Cram in some new crowns! Something will eventually take. We have the crops to prove it.

Purple Asparagus
Of course, not every part of the patch is throwing up fat and tender spears. There's still a few crowns that could benefit from a few more years of growth. The spears that are emerging from these root systems aren't all that fat and probably won't be very tasty. But that's OK! Because next year? Next year they just might catch on and then we'll have a bed in full production.

But there's far more popping to the surface in our raised gardening adventures than just tasty asparagus spears. Venus littered one of the 4X8 raised beds with a multitude of seeds just three short weeks ago. She still hasn't lost her touch. What was once bare earth is now flowering with green.

Spinach-Lettuce-Radishes
You'll find more than one variety of spinach in this bed. Yeah, you'll also find a French Breakfast radish or two. Standard Cherry Bell radishes more your speed? Easter Egg radishes? That and more is now ready for harvest. No need to pull up an entire plant for a spinach salad. Venus just clips the best and leaves the rest, and let me tell you something: home grown spinach is one tasty treat.

Guess what happens when you mix spinach with asparagus? It's called DINNER! It's finally that time of year when the spring gardens start providing the things we'd been forced to grudgingly purchase at the nearby grocery store. Nothing against the store mind you, but it's much easier to just go outside and pick what you need.

More Peas Please!
Not quite in production yet, but getting there? That would be the 2013 pea crop. Once again, a tip of the proverbial gardening hat to the wife that is Venus. Once again she has worked magic with nothing more than a bag of seed. She littered another raised main bed with pea seeds last fall. I've come to discover that the month of October is the perfect time for planting pea seeds.

The plants don't look like much when they first emerge and grow very little, if at all, through the frosty cold winter months. But what you can't see in these photos is the root development. Peas may not grow much above ground during the winter, but the root system gets quite extensive.

Flowering pea vines
And when spring hits? The party is on! These vines are now approaching five feet in height and will probably grow above the stakes that are currently holding the crop up. I'm happy to report that the colony of bees on the other side of the yard recently discovered this crop and are currently pollinating it like mad. That means peas. Lots and lots of peas and very soon now I might add.

Will asparagus season hold out for the pea crop? I think so. Three to four weeks of asparagus production isn't all that uncommon. By then? Those vines will be thick with fat pea pods.

Peas, asparagus, spinach, radishes and more. Sounds like spring greens season is on.

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