For five or six weeks from the middle of April our plates (assiettes) are decorated and our palettes delighted by asparagus (asperges) from our vegetable garden (potager). They are one of the top delights of living in the countryside with enough space to grow fruit and vegetables for our own consumption.
We planted our asparagus "crowns" (griffes) maybe 7 years ago, but left them to grow to their third year before we cut any of the spears (les pointes). The spears usually appear mid-April and continue into June, but it is important to stop cutting them on June 1st. The spears must be left to develop, to grow leaves and to photosynthesise so that the plants can develop properly. Plants will last for 12 or 13 years, then they will need to be replaced.
Rather bizarrely, they like to have salt sprinkled on the ground around them in autumn. Seaweed (algue) will do perfectly. Ash from the fire will also do the trick.
A classic recipe is to serve asparagus with a hollondaise sauce. Alternatively, just steam them and season with butter, salt and pepper. Simple but perfect!