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Growing Asparagus: Osage County Spring is in Full Swing

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: asparagus, gardens, vegetables, gardening,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.In spite of my somewhat over-zealous tilling exercise from a couple of weeks ago, thankfully I avoided wiping out my asparagus patch. I got to day dreaming a bit and forgot about the growing asparagus patch a couple of times and just tilled right on top of it -- oops. Luckily the growing asparagus crowns were smarter than I am and hadn’t sent the first probing spears close enough to the surface for me to grind into oblivion. I love growing asparagus. I enjoy the way it stakes a wild claim along the fencerows and I love that it performs year after year in my garden. I especially dig that asparagus is the first meaty vegetable crop of spring.

Asparagus spear emerging in spring.

I planted this asparagus patch three years ago. Finally, in 2010, the spears are fat, luscious and hopefully plentiful – thanks to all that chicken manure and compost that got worked into the soil last fall and over the winter. My mouth is watering as I write this because for a few fleeting weeks, beginning this week, my Partner in Culinary Crime and I will be able to grill, sauté, steam and smother with melted real cheese (not that processed kind that was the subject of a food show last week) the freshest asparagus we can ever get. I know I will also eat a few of those spears straight from the garden, with no more prep than a quick brushing to get the big pieces of debris off.

Osage county Kansas asparagus

In a perfect world, you might want to have fresh asparagus from the garden all year long. Not me. I prefer the seasonality of the spears – I know that spring is well along when I can break the first bunch, soak it with olive oil and wrap the works in a foil envelope to set on the charcoal grill right next to that lovely grassfed lamb loin. Some folks don’t like lamb because it is “too” flavorful. Some folks don’t like asparagus because it makes their urine smell “funny.”  I enjoy it all and all of it helps me realize that there are seasons and that those seasons shape my life.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .