Early May Harvests

Early in May we are still harvesting lots of greens, but the asparagus is the real star of the garden right now. We have already harvested over 16 pounds of it this year, with more to come before the harvest window ends around Memorial Day. We got over 4 pounds of it this week alone, which has to be some kind of new record for us. For the curious, our asparagus patch has three 25 foot long rows of plants. If well grown, mature plantings five years and older can yield up to a half pound of spears per linear foot of row.

some of the many 2011 asparagus spears (click on any image to enlarge)

Asparagus is not for the impatient, though. Our patch was planted in 2007. In 2008 we got only a few spears, and left the rest to grow into the fern-like foliage that towers up over the patch in summer. In 2009 the harvest began in earnest, and we got about 10 pounds. In 2010, the harvest jumped to 14 pounds.

cloth storage bag for asparagus

After harvest we weigh the asparagus, then wrap it in a cotton pillowcase and store it in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. We weigh the asparagus before trimming off the ends, which is much like you would buy it in the grocery. So the usable portion is a little less than the total. It’s still a LOT of asparagus, and we eat it often during the harvest months of April and May. Our favorite cooking method is grilling. I sometimes marinate it in a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian herbs for 10-15 minutes before grilling. And sometimes I slap it on the grill just as it comes from the garden.

We also like it stir fried. Asparagus seems to pair extremely well with shrimp, and pesto, and pasta. This year I’ve made this Shrimp & Asparagus Pesto Pasta a couple of times, using our Pesto Amalfitana. This dish is good with any sort of pesto. I’ll try and post the recipe in a few days, because I do believe it is a keeper, and easy to make.

Shrimp and Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Asparagus is also quite tasty on pizza. We made some pita pizzas this week using our homemade pita bread, bacon, asparagus, some 2010 roasted tomatoes from the freezer, a little cheese, and topped with some of our fresh arugula. I cooked these pizzas on a very hot grill, and they were done in 2-3 minutes. We made one of these with the Pesto Amalfitana slathered on the pita, and the other one was dressed with a little garlic-herb olive oil.

grilled pita pizza with homegrown asparagus, tomatoes and arugula

We’re still getting plenty of lettuce and Asian greens from the garden. The lettuces are a mix of ones from the greenhouse and the cold frames. The bowl in the photo is a mix of Rouge d’Hiver and some Spotted Trout that resprouted after an earlier cutting. There were four or five small, tender heads that grew back after that first cutting. Nothing like getting two harvests from the same plant! I got a nice head of escarole this week also, which is tasty in the salad bowl.

bowl of Rouge d'Hiver and Spotted Trout lettuces

I harvested two nice Mei Qing pak chois that were grown in the greenhouse. They survived an earlier outbreak from aphids – always an issue in the winter greenhouse (I used a spray of insecticidal soap to get rid of them). I stir fried the pak choi with some Chinese shiitake mushrooms I get from a local international market (Aihua). These two weighed a little over a pound total.

Mei Qing Pak choi

We’re harvesting the last of the spring planted spinach as it bolts. We’ve had a nice run of spinach this winter and spring, but the season is about over. The spinach is no match for the hot weather we had recently. I sauteed some of it for a side dish and some went in a frittata. For the frittata, I blanched the spinach first for about two minutes, then squeezed out most of the moisture and gave it a coarse chop.

spinach ready for the frittata

The frittata was a simple creation using some of our local eggs, a few 2010 dehydrated tomatoes (after soaking in water), the spinach, and a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. It made for a delightful lunch.

Spinach frittata

That’s a look at what we’re harvesting here in Early May. Total harvest for this week was 9.75 pounds, bringing our yearly total to 75 pounds of goodies from the garden. For more garden harvests, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays.

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14 Responses to Early May Harvests

  1. Thomas says:

    Nice harvest, Villager! I was careful not to harvest too much from the asparagus patch this year. There already 3 feet tall in some spots. Hopefully, next year’s harvest will be more substantial.

    By the way – the shrimp pasta looks soooooo good.

  2. Wilderness says:

    Love your blog. I may never get any work done. You harvest is great but got into your bread making. I make a lot of our bread also. I must try the pita bread maybe today since it is to rain all week won’t get any gardening done guess it will be a cooking week. Thanks for sharing

  3. kitsapFG says:

    Wow! That asparagus looks scrumptious as do your ideas for using them. The greens harvest is pretty spectacular too! Asparagus did not like the bed I had them in here at this homestead and were not thriving. Last year, I gave up on it and pulled the bed out. This contrasts with the really abundant and established bed I had while living in Central Washington.

  4. marcia says:

    You’ve really made my mouth water. That asparagus is a work of art as are your cooking creations. I need to visit your blog more often! Especially if you’re posting recipes.

    • Wilderness says:

      Marcia I think I need to stay away. I will never get anything done. Check out the pita bread recipe.

  5. Emily says:

    What lovely asparagus! We’re looking forward to that in a few years. This is only the second year in the ground for our asparagus. Its just now sending up the first spears. We’ll be patient and wait another year.

  6. Diana says:

    Fresh asparagus yummy! I wish I can grow them but we plan to move house and they need permanent bed. Hope someday we can grow them too. All your dishes look so delicious. I hope our spinach will grow fast and I would like to try making that spinach frittata.

  7. What lovely asparagus! I do wish I had room to plant it here, but luckily I have an ex-son-in-law who keeps us in fresh spears each spring.

  8. Barbie says:

    Now the fritata is speaking my language. My honey likes asparagus, but I don’t care for it much. Looks like a great harvest!

  9. Daphne Gould says:

    I put in my asparagus bed this year. I hope it does well there. I love asparagus. I’ll only have about a third of the space as you do though.

  10. Debby S. says:

    So glad I foung your blog! Your asparagus is divine! I agree with the grilling! I toss mine in a little olive oil, garlic and lemon first! YUMMY! Your photos are wonderfu!

  11. Lovely greens and even more lovely food!! I ahve to start cooking more for my hubby
    after seeing these pictures I got hungry!
    Andrea 🙂

  12. It really is a shame Mr. Curbstone runs screaming at the sight of asparagus 😉 It looks like you have had a great harvest of it this year. Your frittata looks scrumptious. There may be one of those in our kitchen by week’s end…at least the rate our chickens are laying at the moment!

  13. Kelly says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to come up with so many ways to use asparagus? I am guilty of eating it fresh from the morning harvest most days, if it survives long enough to see heat I like to roast it in olive oil. Pizza like you made is another favorite, or a quiche. I just picked up 5 more crowns today (a purple variety), now I need to figure out where the heck they will grow.

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