Jacob Springs Farm grows asparagus in a wild harvested manner.
Asparagus is a crop typically under-represented in local farmers markets. Most asparagus consumed in Boulder county (Colorado) in May and June is imported from far away. This represents a market opportunity.
Asparagus has long been a naturalized species in Colorado pastures, hay fields and along ditches. Farming families in Colorado have long harvested this asparagus for their own use and carefully guarded the locations of their favorite stands. As a non-invasive adventive perennial, we believe there is an opportunity to encourage already existing asparagus to expand in areas such as the King-Hodgson property and, eventually to begin marketing this asparagus as a secondary, occasional specialty crop to our local restaurants and markets as well as direct to consumer.
Asparagus forms a fernlike clump which is an excellent habitat for many species of predatory insects, and some species of ground-nesting birds, both of which can help to control pest insect species. These habitats are fully developed by the time hay fields are typically cut—a time when such habitat is at a premium—making asparagusan ideal species to have growing on field edges and margins, along fence lines, roads and ditches.
At the same time, asparagus is a non-woody perennial, making it easy to access and maintain ditches, roads and fences where asparagus is present. It can be easily trampled or cut down to the ground at any time without damaging the plant’s ability to yield in future years. All these attributes make asparagus an interesting plant for targeted cultivation in a permaculture-like wild planting environment.
At Jacob Springs Farm we steward and expand existing stands of asparagus by:
- Hand weeding around existing asparagus stands
- Identifying marginal areas where asparagus could be growing
- Disseminating seeds from existing stands
- Encouraging seed germination through very small targeted clearings (one square foot)
- Compost applications to existing and newly germinating asparagus plants
- Cross-pollinating existing native genetics with more marketable types
- Planting and transplanting of asparagus rhizomes in key areas
We believe in mimicking and guiding natural systems that display a high degree of biodiversity while also producing a marketable yield. These asparagus stands would not be monocultures, and in most cases they would not even be noticeable to the untrained eye. Yet they could become an important keystone species for increasing biodiversity and eventually become a source of supplemental income.
We buy Asparagus crowns from Nourse Farms and Purple Passion is our favorite variety.