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Purple Asparagus

9 Apr
Two Purple Asparagus from our Garden

Purple Asparagus in our Garden

As we wrote on twitter this morning: the purple asparagus in our garden never makes it to the kitchen. We eat the spears immediately after harvesting.

Through out early April, we anticipate savoring these treats from our garden. Sweet, fresh, mild – this asparagus is our kind of candy.

Purple asparagus tastes sweeter than it’s green cousin because it’s higher in sugar content than green asparagus. What makes them purple? Cancer fighting phytochemicals called Anthocyanins are responsible for their beautiful purple hue.

Asparagus is well known for its medicinal properties. Asparagus is a diuretic and laxative with a beneficial effect on the kidneys, liver and bowels. Nutritionally, asparagus is rich in vitamins C & E, folate, potassium, and fiber.
Nutrition Data for Raw Asparagus
Growing Asparagus

About five years ago, we planted one-year-old purple asparagus crowns (rhizomes) in March, when the freezing weather had past. Asparagus is a deep-rooted crop that prefers a soil pH of 6.5-7.5. We planted them in a slightly raised bed filled with nice loamy soil incorporated with plenty of organic compost and a mix of chicken and goat manure.

Asparagus is long-lived crop that can be productive for 15 years or more if well tended. We are sure to mulch and water the asparagus well through out the year (water logging isn’t a problem here in the desert). Every early February, after we clip away the fern debris, we lightly scratch in a 2-inch thick layer of organic steer manure over the entire asparagus bed.

A year later we were able to harvest our first purple asparagus. The best moment to harvest asparagus is when they are the width of one’s thumb, and a height of about six to eight inches. We prefer to cut the spear with a knife at the soil surface.

At the end of the harvest season, we leave a few mature spears to grow out. These asparagus spears will grow into a beautiful, tall fern, re-charging its crown for the next harvest season. During the late season, our female plants bear red seed-bearing fruits.

Treat yourself to this wonderful vegetable. Now is the time to put your asparagus crowns into the soil.

With consistent care and patience, asparagus will reward you every spring with spears bursting with flavor and nourishment for many years to come.

Purple Asparagus

Purple Asparagus in our Garden


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Desert Gardening Books

16 Mar

Celebrity Numerologist, and recent Arizona transplant, Tania Gabrielle twittered us asking if we have any book suggestions for organic gardening in the desert.

We looked through our library for the most well worn and well loved gardening books in our collection. Here are our finds:

Desert Gardening by George Brookbank
Desert Gardening

From caliche to zucchini, this is the definitive guide to desert gardening.

Brookbank started out as an Agricultural Officer in Africa; figuring out how to protect crops from elephants and monkeys. For many years he worked at the Extension Garden Center if the University of Arizona. Brookbank has been writing Gardening articles in Tucson newspapers since the 1970’s and has been in various local radio and tv shows.
The information he has compiled in this book is priceless. If you could only buy one gardening book, this should be it.

* We especially like the desert gardener’s calendar: garden projects for every week of the year.

* We reccomend all of George Brookbank’s Books: “Desert Landscaping: How to Start and Maintain a Healthy Landscape in the Southwest” and “The Desert Gardener’s Calendar: Your Month-by-Month Guide” – Find more great books like these at the University of Arizona Press

Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts  by David Owens  Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts

Occasionally, we get to watch David “Garden Guy” Owens on the wacky “Good Morning Arizona” show on KTVK, Phoenix. He’s a real gift to desert gardeners, with a wealth of organic gardening tips.

Let it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting by Stu Campbell Let it Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting (Third Edition) (Storey’s Down-to-Earth Guides)

Fortifying desert soil is crucial for a healthy, productive garden. This is the classic how-to book on the various methods of composting. It’s an easy, educational, and entertaining read. “Let it Rot” is a great resource for gardeners of all skill levels.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape

Don’t bother signing up for that expensive permaculture class when you can use this book, your own insight and imagination and transform your home into a hydrophilic paradise. Written by Tucsonan Brad Lancaster, “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond” is a three-volume guide on how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water harvesting.

We hope these books will enrich your gardening adventures.

Feel free to twitter us: @OrganicGardenAZ