The Clever Root

Fall / Winter 2015

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f a l l / w i n t e r 2 0 1 5 | 5 story by Jeff Cox / photos by Nate Napierala ot one grower at any of the farmers' markets here in So- noma County has asparagus for sale, even though it's early July. What's that you say? Asparagus is a spring crop? It's over for the year? It doesn't have to be. It's possible to harvest asparagus from spring to fall if you know a simple tech- nique I learned from Dr. Frank H. Takatori, an asparagus specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. The secret, he told me, was understanding that an asparagus plant doesn't care when you harvest its spears during the growing season, but you should limit the harvest period to four or five weeks. The technique for all-season harvests involves this knowledge. Here's more you need to know. Each as- paragus plant is a buried central crown with its roots splayed out around it in a two-foot diameter circle. The spears arise from this underground system and grow upward to reach the sunlight. If the spears aren't har- vested, they will grow about two and a half to three feet tall and produce a puff of ferny foliage. The foliage turns sunlight, carbon All Season Long D G THIS

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