See you later asparagus

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This is the last week we’ll pick the asparagus.  Even though it’s still coming in pretty, to keep the plants healthy we have to stop picking now and allow them to fern out.  So no more asparagus until next April.

Asparagus is a very popular item at the market and we always sell out quickly.  We haven’t had a chance to put away any this year so everything we pick this week is going to our freezer rather than to our customers.

The season got off to a rocky start.  The asparagus was very late coming in.  Sometimes it starts coming as early as March but this year it didn’t emerge until May.

Standard practice is to cut down all the stalks in February, rake them into a pile and burn them. Doing so helps keep down the asparagus beetles, which overwinter in the dead fronds.  But this year I had the brilliant idea not to burn them.  Why not just leave them there to serve as a mulch and help keep down the weeds, I thought.  So I mowed them and left all the residue on the garden. It did suppress the weeds. But when the asparagus finally started coming it, it was assaulted full force by asparagus beetles.

The beetles were doing so much damage I worried that we might not have a crop.  According to the “experts” the solution was to spray our garden with malathion, carbaryl, methomyl or some other combination of pesticides.  Instead, I battled them by hand and hoped for the best.  After a few weeks the asparagus overcame the beetles and we ended up with a beautiful crop.  Once again, no poisons necessary.

But you can be sure that next year I will burn the residue.

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