March Harvest Madness

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.

first 2012 asparagus (click on any image to enlarge)

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.

grilled asparagus with frittata

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.

Simpson Elite lettuces

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!

wilted lettuce salad

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.

Purple Rapa Pop Mix

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.

purple mustard mix

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.

spinach ready for eating

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.

Merlot and Flashy Trout Back lettuces

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.

container grown mache

That’s what we have been harvesting here this March. To see more gardeners harvests, visit Daphne’s Dandelions – host of Harvest Monday’s.

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17 Responses to March Harvest Madness

  1. Norma Chang says:

    Your frittata is making me sooooo hungry.
    Gorgeous harvest. I am so tempted to put my seedlings into the garden and direct sow some seeds after all the grounds are all nice and warm, but I must remind myself it is still mid March.

  2. Amber says:

    Everything looks amazing! Yum.

  3. kitsapFG says:

    Congratulations on the first harvest of asparagus for the year – yum! Your lettuces are all looking really good too. Interesting cross bred green variety. I wonder if we will be seeing that more in the seed catalogs in the future?

  4. Bee Girl says:

    Congrats on the asparagus (I’d be yelling, too)!!! Since we’re not sure how much longer we’ll own this house (really, anywhere from another4 years to…well, hopefully not forever), we’ve been hesitant to put in asparagus. Do you know if we could grow it in a container (a big container)?

    Beautiful greens you have, too! Such abundant harvests 🙂

  5. Barbie says:

    Beautiful harvest. The lettuce you grow puts my itty bitties to shame. LOL.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Awesome on the asparagus! We have not even planted our bed yet…haven’t even decided where we want it. But our rhubarb is coming up along with about everything else! Plum trees are in full bloom as well. 🙂

  7. Rick says:

    Great harvest Dave, we are still a solid month away from harvest that size so I’m a little jealous! I to am up to my elbows in garden work right now. Lots of seedlings to start and it time to get the peas and some potatoes in!!

  8. Jenny says:

    Your greens look wonderful! and cudo’s on crunching asparagus right on the spot! i always do that with the first one too 🙂

  9. mac says:

    Nice harvest and delicious frittata, congrats on your first asparagus. Some critters has been eating my asparagus spears as soon as they pop up from the ground, wonder I’ll get to harvest anything this year >”<

  10. maryhysong says:

    Great looking harvests; I can’t wait for Asparagus myself. I might get a few bites from some older plants scattered about, but it will be one or two years before the Purple Passion that I planted in Jan is ready.

    I will be planting a lot more Asparagus this year too. Lve the mache, I can always tell from the difference in flavor and texture that’s what I have in my mouth when I’m eating my mixed salads.

  11. Julie says:

    I would be dancing for joy if I harvested asparagus spears! This is because I just planted asparagus yesterday.. guess I have a while to wait. Yours looks delicious! I also like all the different lettuce varieties you have.. enjoy the March madness!

  12. Liz says:

    I’m currently exploring different lettuce varieties and haven’t tried mache yat – I think it will have to be my next planting.

  13. Sharon says:

    Wow! I’m so envious! Your garden is producing beautifully! I started my Happy Yummy pepper seeds. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  14. Daphne says:

    When you said you had your asparagus already, I had to run out and see if mine were coming up. Three plants have sent up spears. This is their second year and the spears are fairly small, so I’m not harvesting them. I do have three females marked to remove and replace (all male my ass). I had to order more anyway since a few died so I might as well replace the females. I’ll probably harvest their spears until the new plants arrive.

  15. Beautiful harvest! 🙂


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