Ditch Weed~May 21, 2014

By May 21, 2014 Farm News

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Today is the last day of school here in Delta County, and close to the end of harvesting wild asparagus–or “ditch weed” as it was called in our families growing up. Picking wild asparagus around the farm is a sure sign of spring. As the days warm up however, the random asparagus stands around the farm start to bolt and our weeks of eating fresh asparagus come to a close.

The growth of wild asparagus is a hallmark of early spring around the farm. We start searching out this succulent perennial plant weeks before we find the first one. Our kids have developed a keen eye for finding asparagus amidst the weeds. While most of the asparagus grows around the perimeter of the farm, water from micro sprinklers moisten the soil just enough that we find small stands of asparagus among the rows of trees.

We have a loop around the farm which our kids have called the “asparagus loop” for years. If one of them wants to go for a run, or take the dog out for a walk, they’ll say,“Hey Mom, I’m going out to run the asparagus loop”. This “loop” unofficially covers a half mile at best of perimeter acreage around the rock wall of the farm and has the oldest, best stands of asparagus. These stands produce the thickest and biggest asparagus, some thicker than your thumb.  These old stands (old asparagus stands produce thicker stalks) churn out the Mother Lode of asparagus. These are the stands that when you pick the stalk, emit a small spray of asparagus juice (who knew?) and a satisfying “crunch” when harvested.

I consider the journey of one asparagus as it steadfastly pushes its way up through hard, clay soil, driving upward through feet of last years dried up stalks, reaching for sunlight.  A dazzle of green amongst brown stalks and earth. Then spotted from afar by a hungry mouth, snapped at its base, brought into the kitchen where it’s rinsed, sautéed with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I say a silent thank-you to this morsel of life that adds to the pulse and flow of living on a farm.

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