Early in May we are still harvesting lots of greens, but the asparagus is the real star of the garden right now. We have already harvested over 16 pounds of it this year, with more to come before the harvest window ends around Memorial Day. We got over 4 pounds of it this week alone, which has to be some kind of new record for us. For the curious, our asparagus patch has three 25 foot long rows of plants. If well grown, mature plantings five years and older can yield up to a half pound of spears per linear foot of row.
Asparagus is not for the impatient, though. Our patch was planted in 2007. In 2008 we got only a few spears, and left the rest to grow into the fern-like foliage that towers up over the patch in summer. In 2009 the harvest began in earnest, and we got about 10 pounds. In 2010, the harvest jumped to 14 pounds.
After harvest we weigh the asparagus, then wrap it in a cotton pillowcase and store it in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. We weigh the asparagus before trimming off the ends, which is much like you would buy it in the grocery. So the usable portion is a little less than the total. It’s still a LOT of asparagus, and we eat it often during the harvest months of April and May. Our favorite cooking method is grilling. I sometimes marinate it in a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian herbs for 10-15 minutes before grilling. And sometimes I slap it on the grill just as it comes from the garden.
We also like it stir fried. Asparagus seems to pair extremely well with shrimp, and pesto, and pasta. This year I’ve made this Shrimp & Asparagus Pesto Pasta a couple of times, using our Pesto Amalfitana. This dish is good with any sort of pesto. I’ll try and post the recipe in a few days, because I do believe it is a keeper, and easy to make.
Asparagus is also quite tasty on pizza. We made some pita pizzas this week using our homemade pita bread, bacon, asparagus, some 2010 roasted tomatoes from the freezer, a little cheese, and topped with some of our fresh arugula. I cooked these pizzas on a very hot grill, and they were done in 2-3 minutes. We made one of these with the Pesto Amalfitana slathered on the pita, and the other one was dressed with a little garlic-herb olive oil.
We’re still getting plenty of lettuce and Asian greens from the garden. The lettuces are a mix of ones from the greenhouse and the cold frames. The bowl in the photo is a mix of Rouge d’Hiver and some Spotted Trout that resprouted after an earlier cutting. There were four or five small, tender heads that grew back after that first cutting. Nothing like getting two harvests from the same plant! I got a nice head of escarole this week also, which is tasty in the salad bowl.
I harvested two nice Mei Qing pak chois that were grown in the greenhouse. They survived an earlier outbreak from aphids – always an issue in the winter greenhouse (I used a spray of insecticidal soap to get rid of them). I stir fried the pak choi with some Chinese shiitake mushrooms I get from a local international market (Aihua). These two weighed a little over a pound total.
We’re harvesting the last of the spring planted spinach as it bolts. We’ve had a nice run of spinach this winter and spring, but the season is about over. The spinach is no match for the hot weather we had recently. I sauteed some of it for a side dish and some went in a frittata. For the frittata, I blanched the spinach first for about two minutes, then squeezed out most of the moisture and gave it a coarse chop.
The frittata was a simple creation using some of our local eggs, a few 2010 dehydrated tomatoes (after soaking in water), the spinach, and a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. It made for a delightful lunch.
That’s a look at what we’re harvesting here in Early May. Total harvest for this week was 9.75 pounds, bringing our yearly total to 75 pounds of goodies from the garden. For more garden harvests, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays.