I grow many of the herbs we use for dishes and cocktails at Cuvée at The Greenporter Hotel and have even managed to grow tomatoes, peas and onions in a limited space. We have even been blessed with the occasional self-sprouting potato or pumpkin from compost. But it is the Asparagus Officinalis, a flowering perrenial, that I planted three years ago that eludes me. Asparagus has been grown since ancient Egyptian and Roman times and in 2012, I am still waiting for the stalks to emerge in my garden in Greenport. I started the asparagus from seeds, soaking them in lukewarm water for 48 hours, according to the instructions. I planted the seeds in 15-inch trenches, 18 inches apart. And still no asparagus.
Asparagus is supposed to grow well in porous soil of stone and gravel like we have on the North Fork. We are the same latitude as Bordeaux and share the same sea-side terroir. This is why wine makers have been able to cultivate vinifera grapes and produce world-class wines, yet I am struggling with the asparagus officinalis.
Fortunately, I felt vindicated as I called on gardening expert, Michael Horn, Chief of Seed Inventory Control at Long Island Cauliflower Association. "We don't carry asparagus seeds because of the difficulty and time it takes to grow. What we do offer are 25 bare roots that we sell for under $25".
Lucky for those of us on the North Fork, the soon-to-open Greenport Farmers Market and farm stands along Route 25 and 48 will be carrying plenty of asparagus and other spring vegetables. And perhaps in year four, I may finally conquer this elusive love and harvest my own asparagus.
Recipes: For an easy and delicious spring asparagus brunch ideas, try grilled asparagus with poached eggs on www.seasonedfork.com.