Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Tips for Harvesting Asparagus
Asparagus requires quite a bit of effort to grow. From starting the plants to guarding and nurturing their growth over several years, this particular crop takes time and investment. As a result, you want to make sure that you harvest as much asparagus as possible as a reward for your hard work. Use the tips below for harvesting asparagus to learn when your asparagus is ready and how pick it effectively.
One of the most important things you can do when harvesting asparagus is to wait long enough before picking it. Asparagus requires years to reach full maturity and will not be ready for widespread harvesting before the third year. You may be able to begin picking a small amount of your asparagus in the second year (a single spear per plant). However, it is best to wait one more year before thoroughly picking your crop in order to allow the asparagus to continue growing and gathering the strength it will need to continue growing in future years.
Once your asparagus is in its third growing season, you can begin to watch the spears for signs of readiness. One good sign that your asparagus is ready for harvesting is the size of the asparagus spears. The spears you pick should be about the diameter of a pencil. They should also be between 4 and 6 inches high.
Another clue that the asparagus is ready for harvesting is the tips of the asparagus. The tips should be tightly folded together. As long as these tips remain tightly closed, your asparagus is ripe and ready to be harvested. However, if the tips have begun to open, your asparagus has begun to harden, and will not be good for eating. Therefore, ignore all but the shoots that have the tightly closed tips, and make sure to harvest your asparagus before the tips open up.
There are two methods for harvesting asparagus. The first is to take a sharp knife and cut the spear a couple of inches underneath the ground. This method risks damaging the crown of the plant that is producing the spears of asparagus. If you damage the crown, you will eliminate your chances of growing any further spears from the same plant. Therefore, it is better to snap the asparagus off with your fingers at the level of the soil and leave the crow undisturbed to continue growing spears.
When harvesting, pick your asparagus quickly. Doing so will prevent any of your spears from growing too old and hardening before you can harvest them. At the beginning of the harvest season, you should pick your asparagus every other day. As the season progresses, you should harvest every day. Asparagus grows quickly, at a rate of several inches a day at its peak, so it is possible for new spears to be ready for picking daily.
While you want to harvest frequently, you do not want to harvest too long into the year. At the very most, you should only harvest your asparagus for eight weeks. In the first year of harvesting (the third year of growing), you will probably want to harvest for no more than five weeks. Doing so will allow the asparagus to remain strong enough to produce again the next year.
Asparagus takes a long time to reach fruition. When it does, you will want to take care in harvesting it, so you can maintain the strength and size of your asparagus bed for future years. Following a few tricks will help you ensure that you harvest asparagus for many years. Use the tips above to learn more about harvesting asparagus.