Asparagus, Rhubarb & Strawberries
Asparagus and rhubarb are so bizarre to watch as they push their way out of the ground in the early spring. They seem to defy nature with the way they push through chilly soil, with rhubarb unfurling into big beautiful green leaves, and asparagus poking their bright, long stalks out of the ground, which I swear sometimes grow several inches overnight. Strawberries come with their own level of wonder, as bright, super sweet berries fill tiny little plants. I am so looking forward to how my perennial plants will grow and develop this season!
My asparagus patch is the hidden gem of our yard. It is tucked to the back of the brassicas and roots bed. We actually have a toad that has decided to live in the patch, digging a tiny home for himself under the edge of the garden bed. We have named him Trevor (After Nevil Longbottom's toad, of course) and am so excited to have him a part of our garden. Toads actually claim places as their homes and will stay there and feast on any insects in the vicinity - up to 1,000 bug per day! I am excited for the asparagus plants to grow big and full and give Trevor a perfect little asparagus forest to live in.
Ok, enough of the fairytale, back to gardening:) I have planted purple and green asparagus plants, having purchased four-year-old plants from Eggplant Urban Gardener. They have been in the ground now for two seasons, and I am hoping they will be ready to harvest this year. It is best to only pick asparagus stalks after the plant is well established, meaning it produces stalks at least as big around as your pointer finger, but no smaller than your pinky finger (I know, such an exact science). This can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years. That may seem like forever, but once you have an established asparagus plant, they will produce for decades. I have heard of people having asparagus patches that are 50 years old!
At the beginning of every growing season, as the rhubarb peak their tiny heads out of the garden, I most look forward to making rhubarb custard pie. It has a lovely balance of creamy and tart, and is the perfect way to welcome spring. My rhubarb is planted at the end of my strawberry patch, giving it decent space at the end of this long bed. Rhubarb and strawberries actually help each other grow, and since they are both perennials, will stay in this bed season after season. Rhubarb, like asparagus, benefits from a short period of no harvest, usually one season after planting it to just grow without harvesting.
Strawberries are a fruit I did not grow up picking, but became something I loved to pick living in Minnesota. Every summer my husband and I go strawberry picking, always saying we will pick just what we need for freezer jam, and always leave with pounds more. The past few years I have kept my strawberries in a hanging basket, and decided this year to move them to their own spot in the garden. I grow Tri-star strawberries, as they produce strawberries once in the spring, once in the summer, and once in the fall. I am looking forward to seeing how they spread to fill the bed, and if I can get enough strawberries from my patch for jam. We will see!