Friday 8 November 2013

Saving Asparagus Seed, by Kira

This past spring the kids and I foraged asparagus from the forest.
There is an abundance back there but becomes hard to search for it once the black flies come into full swing.
We did, however, pick enough for a couple meals.
Heading out this fall and seeing all the asparagus fern got me thinking;
I should plant my own asparagus garden, close to home.
The kids and I found this beautiful female asparagus fern that was covered in bright red berries.
We cut it off and brought it home with us, all the while discussing where this new garden would go.
When saving asparagus, pick them when the fruit is red, usually in late fall.
You will find them on tall female asparagus ferns.
I have read that the male plants are the thicker meatier plant, while the female is thinner and woodier, making the male more palatable.
Squeeze the black seeds out the berry.
You usually get one to five seeds out of one berry.

For storage, place the seeds into a kitchen strainer and rinse in cool water.
They wash easily.
Lay them out on a towel to dry, leaving space between the seeds for air flow.
Once they have dried, place them in a sealed container.

I have read from a couple different sources that the seeds need to go into the freezer for stratification before planting in early spring.
This means simulating winter conditions to aid spring germination.
You can keep the seeds in the freezer for the winter or place them in the freezer 6 to 8 weeks before starting your seeds.
Start the asparagus in pots or containers and plant them when they are a year old in early spring or late fall.
This helps protect the plant during it's most vulnerable stages.

When spring nears I will share the process of preparing the seeds and asparagus beds.

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