I’ve been waiting for this moment for three years. One of the main motivations for getting an allotment and dealing with monster weeds and a massive pile of bricks was to grow my own asparagus. English asparagus in season is a true delicacy that knocks spots off the insipid imported stuff we get year round, even before you take into the horrendous environmental cost of flying it half way round the world. It’s one of the things where growing your own really makes sense as the flavour deteriorates quickly after picking. But you do need a lot of space and patience.
We got the allotment in 2009 and it took us a year to clear just half of it. I planted 24 asparagus crowns in a carefully prepared raised bed in March 2010, digging deep trenches and arranging the roots over little mounds before back filling with soil and compost. For two springs, I’ve watched the spears emerge and then let them grow tall and put out leaves and berries. Mr Shah on the next plot thought I was mad and advised me to grow more potatoes.
This year, I can finally start cropping it. Our first taste came a few days ago when we had just enough spears to make a small portion that was steamed and eaten within half an hour of picking. And was it worth the wait? Most definitely.
I’ll be cutting the spears as they come through until early June, a little later next year as the plants get bigger. I feel particularly pleased with myself as this year’s weird weather has severely damaged the commercial crop in many areas, with flooded fields and the cancellation of the British Asparagus Festival. At least with an allotment that sits on a old brickworks, I have decent drainage.