Q. I planted asparagus a few years ago. When and how do I harvest it?
A. Asparagus plants should be well established before spears are harvested, usually in the third growing season. Since the plants are still developing their root system in the third year, spears should not be removed for more than one month during the first season, so as not to weaken the plants. During subsequent seasons, spears may be harvested from their first emergence in the spring for as long as eight to ten weeks. Harvest spears that are 5 to 8 inches long by cutting or snapping them. To cut a spear, place the knife just under the soil line directly next to the spear you want to harvest. Cut it at a 45-degree angle. Make sure not to cut beyond the spear—otherwise, you may damage other spears that have not yet emerged from the soil. To snap a spear, grasp it near the base and bend it toward the ground; it will break just below the soil line where the spear is free of fibrous roots. Once harvested, asparagus deteriorates quickly, so it should be refrigerated or consumed immediately.
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