Finding newly sprouted asparagus is one of the most rewarding experiences after a long winter. Although we have another 4-6 months until you can harvest them, NOW is the time to start looking for your ideal hunting spot. Accepting some delayed gratification, here is your planning guide to finding asparagus in 2018.
Asparagus Tip #1
Start looking right now
Between March and May, foodies post copious articles regarding this sport- and they all essentially start the same way.
“Even though collected in the spring, it is easiest to locate in the fall when the plant turns into a one-stemmed golden bush with thin, lacy, needle-like branches”
“The real secret to finding asparagus is to hunt for it in the fall time. When the air turns crisp and the leaves start to change color, the asparagus will really reveal itself to the universe”.
“Scout for asparagus in the off-season, locating old asparagus skeletons while they stand out against the winter landscape. If you do the legwork now, when those fat beauties start pushing out of the ground, you will know exactly where to return to find them.
Spring after spring, I’m eager to find my very own ferrel patch only to discover I’m six months too late in the search! But you and I aren’t about to make the same mistake again.
Asparagus starts to turn a brilliant yellow color during autumn. If you’re traveling for the holidays, consider watching the roads for old plants which brilliantly set themselves apart from other fading weeds.
Asparagus Tip #2
Look In The Right Places
According to Whole Fed Homestead, asparagus loves light. “You really won’t find it in the woods, or anywhere that is shaded from the mid-day sun. We almost always find it in the road ditches and on the edge of farm fields. That narrows down your search area considerably”.
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook also suggests looking around water sources. “Moisture is important. Asparagus doesn’t want its feet wet, but wants to be close enough to get the benefit. This can be anywhere in the East and South, but in the arid West, you will need to focus on marsh edges, irrigation ditches and near cattle ponds or sloughs and streams.
The long and short of it? Rural South Dakota provides ideal conditions for ferrel asparagus! We’ve found the “canary-yellow skeletons” around ditches, hedgerows, farm field edges and fence lines.
Asparagus Tip #3
Identify the Correct Plants
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook explains how simple the fall search can be. “When the plant dies back in late fall, it turns a lovely canary yellow — a color most other dying plants don’t have, so this is a way to spot them in fall. Look for what appears to be a dead ferny plant on the ground (much like dill or fennel). It helps to know that the foliage all stems from the central stalk, which was the asparagus spear. If you are still unsure, look at the base of the dead plant: It should have scars identical to the triangular leaf scars on every asparagus stalk”.
Asparagus Tip #4
Find Your Way Back
As enthusiastic as you may be to find your first asparagus plant, your companions may not want to stop (or even slow down, Matt?!? Really?!?) every time one is spotted. To make life incredibly easy, simply take a digital photo of the plant- preferably with at least one landmark in the photo. Usually geolocation is automatically on, but be sure to double check prior to capturing your images.
Once the scouting is done, place all images into a single album. I cleverly labeled mine “Asparagus”. Come spring, when you need the information, let your digital camera, Android or iPhone remember where you have been.
iPhone creates a helpful map based on where the photos were taken. If you don’t know this already, here is how I created a hunting map for the spring harvest.
Scroll down to bottom of images until you see “places” and click on map below. Zoom in and out to find the new spring plants.
I am hoping my fellow wild asparagus stalkers won’t beat me to my locations. Once the lilacs bloom, asparagus should be fully formed and ready to harvest. With some fall preparation, no one reading this should feel behind on their asparagus hunting again!