Spring is in the air….. and nothing says spring like Asparagus.

White and green asparagus are really the same vegetable.  The only difference between the two is that the white have never seen the sunlight and have not formed the chlorophyll that makes them green.  Having grown asparagus, I can tell you that it is a lot of work to grow white asparagus.  The asparagus plant is very easy to grow.  In the spring the shoots come up out of the ground (i.e. the asparagus spears) and as they grow, they turn into the most beautiful fern like plants.

The spears are harvested before they are able to sprout leaves.  The plant will continue to send shoots out for a few weeks.  Once the spears become very thin, it’s time to stop harvesting and let the plant develop if you want to have a crop next year.  Now, about these white asparagus…..remember, they can’t see sunlight or they instantly turn green.  The only way to have white asparagus is to keep mounding dirt over them as they start to grow.  The french also use some very attractive bells to cover the individual spears as they grow.  But you need to keep an eye on them constantly since they grow very rapidly and can end up all crooked if they get larger than the bell.

My Grandparents loved white asparagus.  My grandmother used to grow them in her garden in Mexico.  But it was very frustrating.  She would go out in the evening to the garden and make sure that all the spears were well covered and tucked in for the night and then early the next morning they would be poking out again. They grew so quickly before her very eyes.  And after days of taking care of them, a splash of sunlight would ruin it and they’d be green.

Now every time that I see white asparagus at the market, I just have to pick some up.  I always think of Oma as I carefully prepare them for supper……

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