It’s hard to believe it is already March, and time for many folks in the U.S. to catch the annual basketball fever called March Madness. I’m not much into b-ball, but I am knee deep in my own brand of gardening madness this time of year, starting seeds and planting things. And right now I have some exciting garden news to share: we have ASPARAGUS! Sorry for shouting, but I am excited. The first spear of 2012 was harvested on 3/16, and it didn’t even make it into the house. My wife and I consumed it on the spot, while standing out in the asparagus patch.
The warm weather has made it shoot up about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. Typically our asparagus season runs from early April until the last of May. I generally harvest mature plantings like ours for about 8-9 weeks, then let the rest of the spears grow into the ferny foliage that will replenish the roots for next years harvest. At this rate, we will need to stop harvesting by mid-May. We will no doubt just have to play it by ear this year and see how things develop.
The first spears wound up getting grilled, and served up as a side dish for a frittata we had for dinner last night. I can see some more asparagus appearing soon on a pizza or in a stir fry.
This week I also harvested some mature heads of Simpson Elite lettuce from the greenhouse. This is my favorite lettuce for wilting, and that was exactly what we did with it. My wife makes a great dressing using white wine vinegar, sugar, and a tiny bit of bacon grease. We had the wilted lettuce for several meals, served with hamburgers one time and bbq chicken the next. And yes, that is bacon on top of the salad in the below photo!
Something new from the garden was this Purple Rapa Pop Mix. It’s a Frank Morton creation from Wild Garden Seeds, resulting from “crossing purple mustards, wong bok and Red turnip.” It survived the non-winter of 2011-2012 outside, unprotected. Early on it had a lovely purple color that faded when the weather warmed up and the plants got bigger.
I harvested whole plants with a knife, leaving the growing point intact to see if they will resprout. It has a mild flavor, much like a pak choi, and I stir fried it ever so briefly. The leaves can also be eaten raw. I’ll be growing this one again.
The overwintered spinach keeps on producing for us. I expect the plants in the greenhouse to start bolting any day now. The ones in the cold frame might last a bit longer. Normally I do a spring planting of spinach, but not this year. We have so many overwintered greens that I decided we had enough to eat without more spinach. We’re still enjoying what we have though.
I also harvested more lettuce for salads, plus some mache. We had a bit of chicken left over from the bbq, and combined that and some feta cheese with the greens for a Greek style salad for lunch yesterday.
I’ve got the Mache growing in a window box container. I sowed the seed rather thickly, and never got around to thinning it. I expect it will be bolting soon too, but the mild tasting and tender leaves will be nice while they last.
That’s what we have been harvesting here this March. To see more gardeners harvests, visit Daphne’s Dandelions – host of Harvest Monday’s.