Charlie Welsh of Scotland, Ontario is one of our asparagus producers.
By now, you’re probably craving fresh-from-the-field Ontario vegetables on your plate – and at last, you can have your fix with the first crop of Ontario asparagus. At Reesor’s, we eagerly anticipate the first stalks of asparagus because it kicks off the Ontario growing season, which we always wait for.
At Reesor Farm in Markham we specialize in growing strawberries, sweet corn, and other vegetables. So we count on farmer Charlie Welsh and other farmers from Norfolk County to grow asparagus for us. Last week Charlie and his partner (and uncle) Peter Welsh harvested their first crop of asparagus, and as he sees with every harvest, the arrival of spring’s first vegetable is greeted with smiles. “When I bring asparagus to market every year, people are very excited. I’m happy to be growing something that people get excited about,” says Charlie.
The Welsh family has been growing sweet corn since the 1930s and started growing asparagus in 1989. On the shores of Lake Erie, Norfolk County has been an ideal growing location for asparagus because of its sandy loam soil. Since his father retired in 2007, Charlie has been farming in partnership with his uncle Peter Welsh.
“The most challenging part about growing asparagus is like any crop, you are at the mercy of the weather,” says Charlie. “If it’s cold, it stops them from growing. If it’s hot they grow too quickly and we can’t keep up with the picking.”
His tips for home gardeners who want to plant asparagus: “Make sure your soil is well-drained and well-weeded. It’s tricky weeding asparagus, so this is one of the challenges of raising it.”
Did you know?
• Asparagus can grow so fast during very warm weather that pickers go through the fields twice a day to harvest them before they get too large
• Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period
• A well-cared for asparagus planting will generally produce a crop for about 15 years without needing replanting