Harvesting Asparagus

Every spring in the community garden, we look forward to the asparagus. Asparagus is one of the first crops out of the garden. At the community garden, we have an asparagus harvesting schedule: in April and May we sign up in groups of 2-3 for a week of asparagus harvesting. Last week was my week.

When harvesting asparagus, some people break or cut the asparagus at or just above the soil line, leaving a short stump, as you see in the photo above. Some members of the garden group, however, feel very strongly that asparagus should be cut at a diagonal just below the soil line. I did as I was told, but I never really understood why.

Here are some opinions from the interwebs on the matter:

  • GrowJoy says “It is our belief that use [sic] an asparagus knife to cut below the soil allows the plant and crown to be protected by that layer of soil, from both the hotter summer temperatures and marauding pests.”
  • Bonnie Plants says, “Many seasoned gardeners use a knife to cut below the soil line, but it is important to avoid cutting into emerging spears nearby.”
  • According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “To harvest asparagus, simply cut the spears with a sharp knife or scissors at ground level.
  • Gardener’s Supply says, “To harvest spears, cut or snap them off just above the soil level. Leaving a stub causes no harm to the plant.”
  • And finally: GrowingProduce.com says, “There is always a debate on how to harvest asparagus: snap vs. cut. It’s important to note there are no benefits or advantages of cutting asparagus below the soil with a knife. On the contrary, this may pose risk of injury to buds on the crown that will send up new spears. Snapping a 7 to 9 inch spear slightly above the ground level is the ideal harvesting procedure. The small stub of asparagus that is left in the soil after snapping eventually dries up and disintegrates.”

Huh. Interesting. In my future garden, I think I’ll be in the snap or cut just above the soil camp. I learn something new every week writing these posts…

Fortunately, asparagus tastes the same whether you cut it below the soil or snap it off above. I turned my asparagus harvest into a delicious asparagus pie (The recipe is from Veganomicon. No, I’m not vegan, but this pie is!)

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