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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

It's asparagus time!

We went off on a walk to our post office today. It was the first day of the year on which we went out of the door, walked a few metres, and then decided, there was no need for a jacket at all!

Anyway I had already decided that dinner was going to be a risotto involving some of our leek and some borage I was going to pick on the way to the post office. On the way back we decided to take the more scenic route, over the mountain, through the woods and past the old castle ruin.

And suddenly I spotted them! Wild asparagus!

In previous years I've always kind of missed the boat. Gathering asparagus is a very popular past time here, and if you don't get up early enough, they will literally all be snapped up before you realise the season has begun. So they must have just produced their long shoots a couple of days ago.

To the untrained eye, asparagus isn't that easy to spot. The trick is, you start looking for the weed weeks before the season starts and memorise where you've seen them.

The weed is much easier to spot. Once you've seen a few you start looking around for the shoots. They can be quite a distance from the rest of the plant. They grow very long and wind themselves around other plants. Of course wild asparagus is much thinner than the commercial variety, but no less tasty!.

The outstretched tongue is for those of our greedy neighbours I've beaten to the first harvest this year and to a certain so-and-so, who tried to make me jealous yesterday with boasting about her asparagus meal (she'll know who I'm talking about... :-)).

I should've maybe not mentioned this in my blog at all lest I trigger a stampede into the woods in the next couple of days, but I think most of our neighbours have already cottoned on to the fact that it's asparagus season. On our way out of the woods we met an elderly couple with baskets heading into the woods. And as we approached the village we bumped into Bruno, who asked me if we had found any asparagus, despite the fact that I had disguised them in a non-see-through plastic bag. Can't keep anything a secret here for long!

Here's a funny gnawed tree we saw on our walk, which no doubt will fall over soon.

... and on our land, after the almond and plum trees, now the peaches in flower.


Stefaneener said...

You're practically a true local now then, right? My sister has a coffee mug with a mushroom on it and the quote, "I'd tell you where I found it, but I'd have to kill you."

It looks tasty. Enjoy.

chaiselongue said...

Well, done! They'll make a delicious meal. It's the same here - everyone goes out looking for wild asparagus in their favourite places. We have a few growing in the wilder parts of our garden, so they're safe! Here the tradition is to go out on Easter Monday into the garrigue to collect asparagus, then light a fire and make an omelette with them. Fires are forbidden without special permission now though, because of the dry vegetation, so you have to bring them home.

Enjoy your meal!

Heiko said...

Omelette is just what I had in mind... after the risotto :-)

Ayak said...

How wonderful to be able to find wild asparagus. I bet the omelette was delicious.
What on earth has been gnawing at that tree?

Heiko said...

Ayak, the omelette was good! Goodness knows what's been gnawing that tree. I'm not aware of any beavers around here...

Jan said...

We do have wild asparagus on our land, but I have yet to identify the new shoots... although your pics may help with that, although we're off to the UK tomorrow... doh. Peaches and nectarines in flower here too, and what a glorious colour they are!

Ruralrose said...

Great ditty and I always love your pictures even if you are sticking your tongue out. I want to grow peaches and apricots this year. I understand they need "protection" I will have to google this as I thought they were self-pollinating (lol) peace

Kelly said...

I had never seen wild asparagus before, congrats on the find! (That tree is amazingly still standing huh? If it was me, I would have fallen long ago, lol.0

Your blossoms in the orchard are so pretty, you have so many interesting things to share.

Mr. H. said...

Lucky you, we have a secret spot for asparagus as well. Lucky us, no one around here cares to look for such things.:) To many Mcdonalds.

If you go back in the fall and take some of the red seed berries that the female plants will produce and plant them in your garden you might have easier access to your wild asparagus.
We just finished planting some of the seeds we saved off wild asparagus and they all seem to be germinating.

It does take a couple yeas for them to develope enough roots to produce a large stalk though.

I want Stefaneeners sisters coffee mug.:)

Heiko said...

Rose, I believe with you peaches and apricots would need protection. I think they are self fertile, but better yields are achieved if you have more than one. Ours also need spraying against leaf curl, which is a fungal disease. I use Bordeaux Mixture for that.

Kelly, I'm not sur what's still holding that tree up. I suspect it will go with the next wind.

Mr.H, thanks for the tip. As a matter of fact we have a few wild plants on our land too, but I thought I try my hand on the cultivated variety this year. The wild variety is so thin, that you have to gather rather a lot to make a meal. And as the wild ones are much earlier than the cultivated ones, that extends my asparagus season by a bit.

River-Rose said...

Dear Heiko,

Awesome find! Here in Idaho wild asperagus can be found along the canal banks. I just love looking for them, but especially the wonderful taste! I drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt and broil them. Better than candy!

WeekendFarmer said...

Can I trade some geese eggs for some asparagus : )

Lucky you!

Kate said...

I'd love to swap some apples and zucchinis for some wild asparagus, Heiko. What a lovely thing to be able to do, to pick things from the wild. In Australia there are also wild things to be found but we silly non-aboriginal people have taken far too long to learn what they are. I was recently very excited to brush past a Tasmanian mountain pepper leaf bush up on top of a wild and windy mountain.

Heiko said...

Kate, that would be a good swap. I've been eating so much wild asparagus over the last few days that my wee smells most unpleasant! Yesterday it was pangasio fillet on a bed of nettles, wild onions, wild asparagus and wild lemon balm. Apart from the fish, all free (including our own olive oil)

Nicole said...

What a great bunch of asparagus! Mine was much less, so I wound up adding the spears to a quinoa salad. But I did make a few omellettes with store bought asparagus and caprino. Yum.
I'm sorry I haven't sent you my pics, my computer crashed and I lost my hard drive. :( But luckily, the images are still on my memory card. I will try to figure out some way of emailing it to you with my limited computer access.