Robert and I have attempted to grow asparagus for 26 years. We actually started our first seeds during the Blizzard of 1993! We have grown white, green, and purple asparagus. We have been successful by most standards; however, our success came with great cost. Thousands of crowns have been replanted over the years which involved thousands of hours of back-breaking labor. After much contemplation, we have come to the conclusion the WNC winters do not get cold enough to make for the best asparagus growing environment. Also, the many drought years were devastating to the crowns. And, there is the damage done by the wily asparagus beetles–who were thrilled to find asparagus growing on our farm. From where did they arrive?! Is there an app for that?
We have reached acceptance and relinquishment when it comes to growing asparagus. Now we are letting go . . . as a wise man once said attachment is suffering! If you want to try and grow asparagus, we wish you the best of luck. We are not experts and have no secrets to offer. What we have learned is some crops are best left to the farmers in the far north states. Also, one must be comfortable with uncertainty in the garden. Sometimes proper planning and preparation simply is not enough when working in Nature with Nature.
Yes, “asparagus” is in our family farm business name and it will remain as a part of our legacy since asparagus is the first crop we marketed. However, the “& Company” represents the other nearly 90 vegetable varieties we attempt to grow most every year.
Below is a video which gives an excellent description of growing asparagus. Remember this when you purchase that low-priced, “loss leader” asparagus in the grocery stores each spring!
Every year we experience some of the same things. Spring turns into summer, then summer turns into fall, and fall turn into winter. We do not know what each day and each season will be like. However, after over twenty-five years of growing vegetables, we have a general idea of what Nature has to offer WNC and the Fairview end of the Cane Creek Valley. In the middle of winter and freezing temps, we will have some glorious days of sunshine and spring. Indeed, the daffodils will begin to poke their heads up through the soil. Do they know like we do that this day or week is just a brief interlude and freezing temps and perhaps snow will be back soon?
As spring draws closer and the Earth releases the smell of tilled soil, gardeners are overcome with the desire to plant seeds. We have discovered most seeds are best planted in the greenhouse because the cold lingers still. Finally, the day arrives when we move the carefully guarded seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden. No longer is our early toil protected from the elements. Once the plants get their roots into the Earth, they begin to flourish. In short order the first spring greens are ready to harvest.
Once the first harvest commences and the CSA boxes begin going out the door, the spring to summer to fall seasons rush one into another–time after time. The planting of seeds continues through mid summer. We do not plant fall seeds as everyone deserves a break of sorts.
Our connection to Nature is important and part of who we are as CSA Farmers. We welcome new families to join us on our local food journey for the 2019 Harvest Season. We are currently accepting new members and will continue to add pro-rated farm shares mid-season as the weather and crop production allow. Looking for a culinary adventure with the freshest vegetables available? Join us!
As I sit here drinking the sumptuous, green smoothie I just made, I am reminded it is almost time to contact last year’s CSA Members regarding the 2019 Harvest Season. I must do this soon as I am starting to get calls from new veggie lovers wanting to join our CSA! We always make sure any family who was a member in the past is included in the current season if they so desire. Sometimes the CSA fills up quickly!
In the past years, I always sauteed our greens for preserving–and still do some this way. Last year was the first time I put smoothie greens into the freezer. Now I am hooked! My smoothie greens are a mix of spring greens: turnip greens, mustard greens, collards, red and green kale. We also grow Asian greens. We mostly eat these raw in our spring salads; however, they are delicious in smoothies, too.
Christmas 2017 I got a fancy new blender which opened up a new culinary window. In January 2018 I was purchasing “fresh” greens at a local market because I wanted to play with my new toy. (My grandson calls it “Grandma’s Robot.”) Thus, 2018 was the first time I experimented with blanching, pureeing, and freezing greens from our garden specifically for use in smoothies.
As always, the most time goes into washing the greens before I blanch them for three minutes. Next I plunge them into ice water for three minutes, drain and toss into my blender to puree for a few seconds. I find it convenient to freeze the bright green mixture in ice cube trays. A glass baking dish also works, but then one must cut the finished frozen product into cubes or bars. I have found wrapping individual frozen cubes in baggies makes it easier to extract the exact amount when making a smoothie.
We do not plan to overwhelm you with spring greens. But every family is different, so if you do feel you are being overwhelmed, take a few minutes and try this out. If you do not drink green smoothies, the cubes can be tossed into most soups for an extra serving of veggies!
Or, you can just wash and toss the greens into the freezer without blanching. However, my recommendation involves blanching to preserve the color and most nutrients. Or skip the processing altogether and give any extra greens to a neighbor or friend. We love even this choice because you are helping to introduce our CSA Farm to others in the community. Just please do not let the fruits of our labors go unused! Wasting is sad.
Last weekend Robert finished clearing the gardens of last season. Of course, the wild turkeys are watching the activity with great interest. They are excited to see their human friend back on the landscape. Snow and rainfalls means it has taken until now to finish this job. The goal is always Christmas, but some years it is later. Naturally, the 2019 gardens cannot be planted until the 2018 gardens are removed!
The slightly warmer temperatures have us thinking about seeds and what will be going in the gardens this year. Orders have been placed and we anxiously await those precious packages which begin the 2019 planting season. Of course, Our CSA will not begin until the middle of May, but we must begin now in order to be ready!
Our control over life is very limited. Much of our “suffering” is attempting control events over which we have no authority. I am thinking now of rain and snow and weeds and garden pests for starters! Also, the deer which eat my azaleas, the turkeys who mess up my front stoop, the chipmunks that LOVE to eat our strawberries. I could go on and on!
As we go into the New Year, we are attempting to relinquish our need to control. We are attempting to accept reality as it is in this very moment and to see our inter-connectedness with the Earth and the Universe. We will try to maintain this mindfulness as we garden throughout the 2019 Harvest Season! I am an Eternal Optimist. Here’s to a bountiful season ahead as weather-delayed cleanup of the past season continues.
We did have a very Merry Christmas celebration here in Western North Carolina and trust the same is true for all of our friends and CSA Members–past and present.
December was a busy month. I traveled to my Family Farm of Origin in The Land of Big Tractors to visit my parents, extended family, and community friends while Robert stayed behind to clean up the 2018 Gardens. Robert worked hard during the weather appropriate days. Unfortunately, we had enough moisture to water log the fields and he was not able to complete the task. Last night and today, we received well over five inches of additional rainfall on saturated grounds.
It will soon be 2019! I have already cleaned up the greenhouse so that it is ready and waiting for us to start seeds in late February. There is a lot to be said for a glass protected working environment.
Our first wish for the New Year is that some dry weather and sunshine will come to WNC. We are so glad the temperature was warm so we did not get more snow. Those fourteen inches of snow we got in early December were enough for the season! We wish a Happy New Year to one and all.