Bring me my Spears!

Bring me my Spears!
  • recipes Jo Arnell
  • pictures David Merewether

Bring me my spears, O clouds unfold, bring me some hollandaise as well. Sorry, but the sight of my purple-tinged asparagus spears poking boldly out of the ground in the veg patch brings me out in terrible singing. I've put off growing asparagus for years and years, being too impatient to wait for the two years before you can crop it and thinking I didn't have enough space. Finally three years ago I planted my first asparagus crowns and I have to say that the years have whipped by and here we are now, well into our second cropping year. If you have the space, do grow some it's as easy as rhubarb and twice as welcome among your friends if you end up with a surplus. Asparagus likes light, well-drained soil and needs to be kept free of weeds. But that's about it. It's a perennial so it will keep coming back bigger and stronger every year. You plant one-year-old crowns and then you just have to leave them to grow undisturbed for two years until they're strong enough to withstand the next 15 years or so of picking. If that hasn't tempted you, or you really haven't got the space, don't worry; there are plenty of local producers and suppliers, so there are really no excuses for not indulging in the brief but abundant season of locally grown asparagus. Asparagus is a wonderfully versatile vegetable; perfect on its own with butter or a hollandaise sauce as a starter or as a simple accompaniment, but it also combines beautifully with so many other ingredients.

Jo runs gardening workshops from Hornbrook Manor Farm in Woodchurch, To find out more visit www.hornbrookmanor.co.uk or call 01233 861186