David Quidnunc • Link
ASPARAGUS IN THE GARDEN
"[A]sparagus is a perennial that may be productive for twenty to twenty-five years and possibly more with good care. Requiring sunny days for maximum photosynthesis, asparagus prefers deep well-drained soils and should have two full growing seasons before the spears are harvested. Generally, a forty-foot row of five-year-old asparagus plants yields about ten to twenty-five pounds of spears during an average growing season."
"Because of the nature of asparagus, the crop is very labor intensive. Spears are hand-harvested every day or every other day depending on the weather by an experienced asparagus worker."
"Tradition holds that asparagus, a springtime vegetable, disappears in the fires of St. John the Baptist's day (June 24), in the first heat of summer."
"The British asparagus season traditionally ran from 1 May to 21 June, ...
"John Burton Race, the TV chef, 'In England it's terrific; don't buy out of season from around the world, because it's tasteless.'
"Asparagus is planted in the ground three years before it can be harvested for the full season. Farmers only harvest for a short period of time the first few years to allow for further growth. Commercial plantings generally lasts eight to twelve years, depending on various factors."
-- From: "Here's a hot tip: asparagus is the new Beaujolais" by David Smith, The Observer, Sunday, 3 April 2005
[I think the following applies to modern varieties and hot, Californian or Mexican weather:]
"Under ideal conditions, it can grow up to 10 inches in a day and reach up to 12 feet in height."
"It thrives along riverbanks, shores of lakes, and even close to the salty waters of seacoasts, tolerating considerable salt in the soil in which it grows. It has been found "wild" in so many places that there has been much argument as to where it actually originated."
"Asparagus is a perennial plant which, under the best conditions, will remain productive up to 30 to 35 years and will live much longer. Formerly it was grown almost entirely with the soil ridged up high over the roots at harvest time so that the shoots would develop in the dark and be white, as harvested. Now, however, we have learned to prefer green shoots which develop in the light, so that ridging is no longer so common."
"White asparagus, which are more popular in Europe, are grown underground to prevent the development of chlorophyll. They are tenderer with a mild and nuttier taste. However, no matter what size, their exteriors are fibrous and always need to be peeled."
"With its high tolerance for salt and its preference for sandy soils, wild asparagus grows in such diverse places as England, Russia, Poland ... Syria and Spain ..."