Stitch Fix Giveaway ~ The Celebration Continues

I have a surprise! (Don’t you just love surprises?!) We aren’t done celebrating yet. Stitch Fix wanted to help celebrate my blog’s anniversary, too, so they donated a $50 gift certificate to be given away!!! If you’ve been wanting to try Stitch Fix then this is your big chance. If you are already a Stitch Fix customer, you’re eligible, too! Stitch Fix offers styles for Misses, Maternity, Petites, and Plus. They also style for men.

Just in case you missed my other post, I’m celebrating the first anniversary of my blog. You can read the first part here: Mid-Life Blogger’s First Anniversary

This post contains affiliate links. If you use one of my links to make a purchase, I earn a referral fee. If you are a Stitch Fix customer, then you can also earn referral credits by referring your friends.

How Stitch Fix Works

When you first set up your Stitch Fix account, you will set up your Style Profile. There is no charge to do this.  It will ask for information regarding your sizing, preferences, and budget. Your stylist will use this information to choose items for you. (This is also a fun thing to do with a friend.)

When you schedule a Fix, your account is charged a $20 styling fee. Your stylist chooses five items from among clothing and accessories especially for you and sends them on the date you choose. You then have three business days to try on the items and decide what to keep and what to return. Shipping is free – even on exchanges.

You check out online, and your account is charged for the items you keep. If you keep at least one item, the styling fee is applied towards the balance. If you keep all five items then you receive a 25% discount.

A pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope is provided, so when you’re ready, you just slip the returns into it, seal it, and drop it off at the post office. It’s very quick and easy!

There’s an App for That

Stitch Fix has an app that you can download. If you fill out your Style Profile using it, you can include a picture of yourself.

Get The Best Fix Possible

Communicating with your stylist is the key to getting the best Fix possible and Stitch Fix gives you many opportunities to do that.

  • The first opportunity is with your Style Profile. It asks for a variety of information such as your sizes, your budget, and your style preferences. Take your time in answering all of the questions because this is the information that the stylist will rely on most, especially in the beginning.
  • When you schedule your Fix, you have an opportunity to write your stylist a note. You can request certain pieces or tell her about a special event you have coming up. Are you interviewing for a job? Going on a cruise? Attending a wedding? Those are all things to tell her. In the Facebook Stitch Fix groups, I’ve also seen people ask for certain themes such as “all white,” “all dresses,” or a celebrity’s style, e.g. “A Joanna Gaines Fix.”
  • When you check out, you have the opportunity to give feedback on each item. Whether you love it or hate it, give specific reasons why. From this information your stylist can get to know you better with each Fix.
  • Another way of communicating is by setting up a Pinterest board and linking it to your Style Profile. You can pin pictures of clothing and accessories to it that you like. They don’t have to be brands that Stitch Fix carries. Your stylist will still be able to get a feel for the colors and patterns that you like by what you pin. I’ve put a link to my Pinterest board, as well as Stitch Fix’s, at the bottom of the post.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Keep an open mind and try on everything your stylist sends. That’s the whole point of Stitch Fix – having the experience of a personal stylist. Cindy sent me this maxi skirt and blouse. They’re more colorful than I normally wear, but I liked the watercolor floral, the length, and the buttery soft fabric.

Kendra Crochet Detail Blouse by Skies Are Blue, and Deanne Floral Maxi Skirt by Loveappella
Favorite Pieces

I’ve been getting Stitch Fixes for about a year and a half now. I’ve discovered that I love light pink and have kept several items in that color. They’ve all gotten a lot of wear. This light pink Winston Open Cardigan by Bobeau has served me well. It goes with a lot and is comfortable almost year ’round. I took it and this Curran Split-neck Blouse by Pixley with me on a trip with my mom and sister last fall. Many items that I’ve purchased from Stitch Fix have become favorites that I reach for most often.

Spontaneity

Before kids, my husband and I were spontaneous, and now that the nest is empty, that spontaneity is re-entering our lives. That means I may not have time to go shopping, so it’s nice to have appropriate clothes on hand. Just this weekend my husband and I decided on the spur of the moment to go to Branson, Missouri, to celebrate my birthday. I was glad that I had something to wear that was stylish and comfortable. This Edmond Henley Knit Top by Pixley got to ride to the top of Branson’s new Ferris wheel.

Fun

I’ve had a lot of fun trying the new things that Cindy, my stylist, has sent me. I enjoy shopping, but for some reason I don’t find the time to go very often, so it’s nice for the shopping to come to me. I also think it’s fun to write about, and it’s fun to goof off with my daughter when she’s taking pictures for me.

Stitch Fix Giveaway ~ The Celebration Continues
Goofing off with my daughter

You can read more about my Fixes by choosing the Stitch Fix category.

Giveaway

Thank you, again, to Stitch Fix for allowing me to raffle off a $50 gift certificate. Please enter the giveaway below. You will be required to complete a Style Profile as part of your entry. That step is required because the stylist can’t prepare a Fix for you without it. Good luck!

Helpful Links

Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix Seasoned and Stylish Facebook Group

Stitch Fix B/S/T and Discussion Facebook Group

Mid-Life Blogger’s Pinterest Board

Stitch Fix Pinterest Board

Mid-Life Blogger’s First Anniversary

It’s hard to believe, but I’m celebrating my first anniversary of Mid-Life Blogger already! When I think back over the past year, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and the new experiences I’ve had. To help me celebrate, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company generously donated a $30 gift certificate. You can learn more and enter by scrolling down to the bottom of this post. The giveaway ends on May 31st, the anniversary of my very first blog post. Please share with your friends so that they can get in on the fun with us. Good luck!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may earn a small commission. It doesn’t affect the price you pay, but it helps to support my blog. 

A New Chapter

I started blogging for several reasons. I was going through a major life change since I was becoming an empty nester and I felt an emptiness that I wanted to fill. Also, I had spent fourteen years homeschooling my children and I wanted to share what I’d learned and encourage other homeschool moms. Empty Nest Writing has helped me transition, and made it more exciting by providing new opportunities and experiences. With the kids leaving the nest, my life literally looked like a blank page. Through blogging, I’ve happily written on it to chronicle this next chapter. (Read Empty Nest)

A New Hobby

Blogging knit my many interests together into a new one. Through it, gardening, homesteading, homeschooling, and writing, have all come together into a new hobby that encompasses all of them, as well as anything else that life brings. It allows me to look back at lessons learned and precious memories, while at the same time sharing as I adjust to new roles and embrace new opportunities.

Learning

There were things that I had been wanting to learn, but hadn’t really had time during the previous season. It just seemed like the time had come. To say that my mind has been stimulated would be an understatement. There is still so much to be learned and it’s never dull. What I appreciate is that I can do it at my own pace. When there are other things that need my attention, the blog can wait. And possibly later benefit as I’m able to share the things I learn and experience. (Read Learning How to Learn)

Revelations

Often, God reveals things to me. It may be an answered prayer, a new understanding, or how He orchestrated life events to bring about a particular end. Those things are fun to share, too. (See my Inspirational category)

Stitch Fix

I wrote about Stitch Fix in my first blog post. I had forgotten that I actually first thought about blogging specifically about it because I couldn’t find any mid-life Stitch Fix bloggers. Stitch Fix appeals to my city-girl side. Even though I live in the country, I still like to feel my best when I go to town. A side benefit has been that I’ve had some pictures of myself to use for my blog. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have many because I’m usually the one behind the camera. I still can’t say I’m totally comfortable in front of it, but writing about Stitch Fix has helped with my confidence a little bit. I used a photo from my most recent Stitch Fix post to make a featured image for this one.

New Friends

There was an unexpected benefit of blogging – I’ve made new blogging friends through it. We write about similar topics so we have a lot in common. We help each other learn and grow. Through blogging I meet new people every day.

New Experiences

I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for blogging. I’m really grateful for those, and look ahead with wonder at where blogging will take me next.

Most Popular Post

My most popular post so far, and by far, is Homeschool Graduates in College. When I first had the idea to write it, I had no idea of the impact it would have. I hoped to encourage homeschooling parents, and evidently I succeeded. It’s been viewed over 21,000 times at this writing.

Behind the Scenes

I wanted to take a moment to explain about affiliate links. If you read many blogs, you may notice affiliate link disclaimers like mine above. The FTC requires bloggers to post a disclaimer whenever a post contains them. I didn’t know it when I started, but there are actually a lot of expenses involved in blogging. You can get started free, but as the blog grows and improves, it starts to incur more expenses. When you make a purchase through a blogger’s affiliate links, they make a small commission. How much varies with the vendor and product, but its usually pretty small. The price you pay doesn’t change when you use them, but the commissions help bloggers pay their bills. If you enjoy my blog, then you can help support it and encourage me by using my affiliate links. You can access them quickly by visiting my Resources page, or by clicking on links and banners in my posts.

One of the biggest challenges bloggers face is just getting their posts seen. Social media sites are constantly changing their algorithms which determine what appears in your feed. Even if you follow someone’s page, you still might not see their posts. What helps our posts to be seen is your reaction to it, whether you comment, share, or just click an emoji. So another way you can support bloggers is by simply liking, sharing, and commenting. The only sure-fire way to make sure you see them is by subscribing.

Celebration Giveaway

One of my favorite things to write about is gardening. Many of my posts have been about seeds I’ve bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I love trying new things, and their catalog is a mesmerizing source of endless possibilities. I’ve ordered from them for many years, long before I started my blog.

If you aren’t on their mailing list, you’re missing out. They have non-GMO seeds from all over the world for crops and varieties I didn’t know existed, and their  listings expand every year. This year I was excited to see more flowers being included. The catalog is seasoned with gardening-related quotes, too, so it makes for interesting reading. Expand your gardening horizons and try something new!5 Easy Ways to Brighten Winter Days

To help celebrate my first anniversary, Baker Creek generously donated a $30 gift certificate. Please enter the giveaway below and share with your friends. In the comments, tell me if you’ve purchased from Baker Creek before, and what seeds you’d order if you win. (Or even if you don’t.)

Thank You!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and allowing me to share with you. My readers are precious new friends. I truly appreciate your support and encouragement!

I know where I’ve been, but I don’t know exactly where I’m going. Even so, I’m not fearful, because I know God has a plan and a purpose for me. And my blog.

If you haven’t already subscribed, I would love it if you did.

Mid-Life Blogger's First Anniversary

A Forager’s Walk

We’ve been having a lot a rainy spring weather lately, and you won’t hear me complaining. Yesterday afternoon I thought I’d get a quick walk in between storms. After studying the weather radar I wasn’t sure how much time I had, but I love taking walks. Every time I do, I fall more in love with our beautiful countryside. My trusty dog, Libby, always goes with me and I feel safer with her along.

It was (very) overcast and cool. The air was oxygen-rich and smelled of rain. When I was under the canopy of trees there was another lovely scent. I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from, though. Maybe a certain type of tree was flowering, or something. I wished there was a way for me to share that with you, but I stopped and breathed deeply for a few moments to enjoy it. A rumble of thunder prodded me to get going.

God Provides

One of my hobbies is foraging – picking wild berries, mushrooms, etc. One of my first visits (maybe THE first) to this farm was about twenty years ago, soon after my in-laws first bought it. It was when the berries were ripening, so we spent time on a hillside picking them and then my mother-in-law made a fresh cobbler when we got back to their home. I was just in awe at all of the wild berries that grew here. Growing up a city girl, I had never lived in such an area. From the time we moved here about ten years ago, I’ve picked the raspberries and blackberries, and gradually added other things I hunt for. God provides for us abundantly, all I have to do is get off my behind and go hiking. How much does a small plastic container of “organic” berries cost these days? Each spring, I spend as much time as I can picking berries and packing them in the freezer. I get free organic food, and exercise at the same time.

Brambles

When I was out hunting morels (mushrooms) last month I noted all the brambles which were just beginning to blossom.

Blackberry blossoms (taken a month earlier)

There were wild canes everywhere I looked, and they were loaded with flowers. The berries are forming now, and yesterday I spied the first ripening raspberries. The blackberries will soon follow.

Ripening raspberries
Loaded blackberry bush
Huckleberries

I’m also keeping an eye on the huckleberries, which are like tiny wild blueberries. My favorite use for them is muffins, but they’re so tiny, and I have a lot of competition, so I don’t usually get a whole lot.

Huckleberries beginning to ripen

Aha! They’re starting to ripen. I picked a few that were right beside the road. More thunder reminded me that I didn’t have time to look further.

Huckleberries
Gooseberries

Another berry I pick is gooseberries. They’re so tart that not everyone enjoys them, but my dad has shared memories of foraging for gooseberries during his childhood in northeast Kansas. I like to make a gooseberry pie especially for him. The gooseberries are looking good this year, too. They have such pretty little leaves. The berries are harder to find because they’re green and hang underneath the thorny branches. Some years the berries have seemed scarce, but I’m seeing a lot this season. It’ll probably be a few more weeks before I pick them.

A gooseberry bush
A flowering gooseberry. (Photo taken a month ago)
Heading Home

We even have wild roses here! They’re blooming, too. Did you know that roses, blackberries and raspberries are all related? (So are apples, btw)

Wild roses

As I turn onto our driveway, I’m joined by the guinea gang and a banty rooster.

Guineas and rooster

I got home just in time. Look at the menacing clouds!

We got almost 5″ of rain overnight, causing more flooding. I enjoyed my short walk, and now I know that my berry foraging season is beginning. Thanks for coming along!

Related Reading

Rainy Days ~ A Simple Pleasure

 

A Forager's Walk

 

Stitch Fix May 2017

My husband gave me a Stitch Fix gift certificate for Mother’s Day! It was such a nice surprise to find the notification in my inbox. When my Fix arrived, my daughter was home and able to help with taking pictures. She’s good at loosening me up and helping me smile. Then mid-way through our “shoot,” my son came out to sit on the porch and he was listening to some interesting music, so that added to the ambience. Oh, and don’t forget the crowing, gobbling, and honking of our birds in the background, too. We were having a rainy day, so it was overcast and gloomy. It was too dark inside the house, so we ventured outside after a rain shower to get the most light possible. There are a lot of Stitch Fix bloggers out there, but I haven’t seen any others with geese in the background.

Stitch Fix May 2017
Goofing off
First Impression

This Fix made a great first impression on me. I loved the colors and patterns when I first saw them and couldn’t wait to unwrap it.

Stylist’s Note

I read the stylist’s note and was excited to see that Cindy was still styling for me. Her note was personable, like from a friend, and she referenced my Pinterest board. Every Fix comes with a Style Card that gives styling suggestions for each piece in the Fix. I liked everything on it – it felt totally “me.” With every Fix she has gotten to know my preferences better and this was the best Fix yet.

I have a limited color palette for my wardrobe. By narrowing down my colors, it helps me keep my wardrobe smaller while at the same time making sure that things coordinate better. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and it is really working well for me.

Not only is May the month of Mother’s Day, but also of my birthday. When I scheduled it, I told Cindy I wanted a birthday Fix. I didn’t ask for specific things, but I spent some time on my Stitch Fix Pinterest board, deleting things I no longer needed/wanted, and pinning some new things. I also went through my Style Profile to make sure all of that information was correct. I made a few small changes and it was good to go. That was time well-spent, and it was enjoyable, too.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I make a very small commission if you make a purchase through them. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but helps to support my blog.

What was in the Box?

I love this outfit and it’s a keeper. No suspense there! I loved these pants from the moment I pulled them out of the box. They’re a little more than I normally spend, but I have a hard time finding pants that I like, so I decided that if they fit well that I was going to splurge a little. It IS my birthday month afterall!

Levant Tiered Ruffle Top by Market & Spruce; Sylvie Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M
Levant Tiered Ruffle Top by Market & Spruce; Sylvie Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M

These pants are Sylvia Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M and they’re a stretchy pull-on style. The fabric is smooth and feels great and of good quality. Here’s a close-up of the print.

This top that Cindy sent is the Levant Tiered Ruffle Top by Market & Spruce. It’s very light and gauzy. It was a little transparent, so I chose to wear a camisole underneath. It has a keyhole in the back. Here’s a close-up:

 

Outfit #2

This outfit was cute, too, and the colors in the top are in my wardrobe palette. Cindy paired this Mulliken Raglan Striped Knit Shirt by Olive & Oak with the Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean from Kut From The Kloth. I tried them on with some turquoise Reef flip flops that I already owned (And love, btw. They’re so comfortable!)

Mulliken Raglan Striped Knit Shirt by Olive & Oak with Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean by Kut from the Kloth

Cindy also included this Casidia Cargo Jacket by Coffeeshop and suggested wearing it with either outfit. I loved that it went with both, as well as with a lot of other things I’ve kept from previous Fixes. I liked most things about it, but I wasn’t crazy about the fabric accent, and it was also a little big for me.

Close-up of back detail

For the first time I kept all five pieces to receive the 25% discount, then I sold the jacket in one of the Facebook Stitch Fix groups. I also sold the Mulliken shirt. I liked it pretty well, but didn’t just love it. Those groups are a lot of fun because you get to see what other people receive in their Fixes. If you see something you like, you can pin it to your Stitch Fix Pinterest board to drop a hint to your stylist, or you might have the opportunity to buy it there.

Exchanges

Stitch Fix started offering exchanges awhile back, so I contacted them about possibly trying the Kut From The Kloth jeans in a different size. It wasn’t available, so I’m still debating about keeping them. If I opt not to, then I’ll list them for sale as well.

If you like any of these items, you can pin these photos to your Pinterest Stitch Fix board:

Gift Certificates

I have a confession to make. I’ve gotten a few Fixes that I haven’t blogged about. I just had too much going on to write about them. In one of them I used a gift certificate that my sister gave me for Christmas. I happened to take a selfie to show her what I was keeping as her gift, so I can share that with you. This is the Jadey Tulip Hem Knit Top by En Elly. It’s very comfortable and easy care. I have quite a bit of this color now, but I still like it, and it goes with a lot in my closet.

Jadey Tulip Hem Knit Top by En Elly

Stitch Fix carries misses, maternity, plus, and petite for women. They also style for men now, too. When you order a gift certificate, you can choose to have it mailed, delivered by email, or to print it out to deliver it yourself. My sister had it mailed to me, so I saw for the first time how nice their gift certificates look.


Your Turn

I hope you had fun seeing what I got, but it’s much more fun to receive your own Fix. If you would like to find a Stitch Fix blogger with a similar style and body shape as yourself, drop me a line telling me what you’re looking for and I’ll try to hook you up with one.

Here are some tips to to get the best Fix possible:

  • Set up, or update, your Stitch Fix Pinterest board and link it to your Stitch Fix account so that your stylist can easily access it. To find things to pin, try searching “Stitch Fix.” You can pin any clothing and accessories that you like, to give your stylist an idea of your style.
  • Double-check your Style Profile to make sure that everything is accurate.
  • Keep an open mind. Part of the fun of Stitch Fix is seeing what your personal stylist chooses for you. Be prepared to try everything on. I’ve found that looking at pictures of myself wearing the items helps me to see how they look and make my decisions.


If you’re ready to try Stitch Fix for yourself, then click on any link or banner and it will take you to Stitch Fix. It doesn’t cost anything to learn more about it. You can even set up your Profile and see all of the questions they ask to learn your preferences. You aren’t charged anything until you schedule a Fix. At that time, you’re charged a $20 styling fee. When you check out, that $20 is applied towards your balance and you are charged the remainder. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me.

Stitch Fix May 2017

Wings

If you follow my Facebook page, then you may have seen some photos and videos of a broody hen named Stella. We’ve raised chickens off and on for ten years now, and we’ve had many hens go broody, but they would start setting on a clutch of eggs only to abandon it halfway through. When hens get broody, they stop laying eggs, so in the interest of production that instinct has been bred out of them for the most part. Stella is the first to hatch out and care for a small brood of chicks, so it’s the first time I’ve had the treat of watching a mama hen’s instincts at work. So far she’s doing a great job and her chicks are doing very well. We’re still keeping them separated from the rest of the flock for the protection of the youngsters, so periodically I check on them and provide for their needs. I love watching the little chicks zip in and out from under mama, and listening to her reassuring clucks. It has caused me to contemplate the concept of “wings.”

Picture I took when I first discovered the newly hatched chicks.
For Sheltering
Newly hatched chicks are extremely susceptible to cold. A broody hen is very warm underneath, between 105 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, so newly hatched chicks find the warmth they need beneath her wings. Were it to rain before their feathers had grown in, they would also be kept dry.
A chick peeks out from beneath Stella’s wing.

When I first discovered that some chicks had hatched, I went into the coop to check for any that might have fallen out of the raised nest box. Sure enough, I found a little white chick laying on the floor. I picked it up and it was cold and lifeless, yet I felt its heart beating. I held it in one of my hands while I went to get supplies for the new family. By the time I got back, it was starting to revive a little. After my husband helped me prepare a place and move them, I put the weak little chick up under its mother. When I returned a little later to check on them, it had revived and was getting around as well as the others.

Video of Stella and chicks

For Protecting
As soon as a hen gets broody, she becomes very defensive. When you get near her, she’ll fluff her feathers and growl. If you reach for her eggs, she’ll peck at you. That behavior continues once her chicks are hatched. Here is a video clip of that behavior:

Our hen, Stella, seemed to soften a little bit at that point, but she was still very protective of her chicks. If they had ventured away from her, she brought them back with a certain call, and they’d scurry back underneath her wings.

Stella keeping a watchful eye on me.
Our Heavenly Father

Many times in scripture, wings are used to describe God’s loving care of His people:

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 36:7 New International Version)

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalm 57:1)

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4)

How reassuring it is to know that He watches over us and invites us to take shelter beneath His wings. Watching Stella with her babies has given me new appreciation for that analogy.

Motherhood
The term “wings” reminds me of myself, too, and my role as a mother. Even before my children were conceived, I was praying and preparing for them. As soon as they entered the world, my instincts kicked in. I remember well how protective I felt, and if I could have had a police escort, or perhaps an armored vehicle, when taking our babies home for the first time, I would have. When I took them out in public, I worried that someone might try to kidnap them, so I kept them very close, and if I had to look away from them, I kept a hand on them. That may sound paranoid, but we lived in a huge metropolitan area at the time. My children were (and still are) my treasures. Even now, with them full-grown, I always feel ready to protect them. I have to restrain myself sometimes and let them handle things theirselves, but inside, I still feel like Stella in these pictures. You can see that she’s watching me carefully.

Wings

For Flying
Our children are in the “fledgling” stage now. They’re trying their own wings and even as they fly further and further from the nest, they are always welcome back.

One spring, years ago, I heard a ruckus out front so I went to investigate. At the edge of our yard, by the woods, there were some Blue Jays in the trees. I’m at a loss at how to describe their calls, but they’re very loud and boisterous, much like an alarm. On the lawn I discovered a young Jay sitting in the grass, and the closer I got to it, the more frantic and loud the parents became. It was a fledgling that had tried its wings and had landed in the grass. From their perches, it’s parents were watching over it and encouraging it to try again. They were prepared to defend it from a cat, or me, if necessary.

That memory, which had been stored in the back of my mind, came to the forefront these recent years as first our son, and then our daughter, started trying their wings. My husband and I watch over them and encourage them from a distance. Sometimes their landings are rough and they get discouraged, so we try to boost their spirits and give them the courage to try again. With each attempt their wings become a little stronger. I’m still waiting to see where they will eventually carry them, and hope that it’s not too far away.

Wings
Mama Phoebe

Even as I write this, the front door is open, and from my chair where I’m writing I can see the bird feeders. I’m watching hummingbirds, blue jays, cardinals and others, flying to and fro. We have a large flood light mounted to the peak of our roof, and a mama Phoebe built a nest up there and is raising some chicks. When I’m in the front yard I can hear them up there clamoring for food, and I see mama flying to and from the nest, doing her best to fill those hungry mouths.

Empty Nests

Spring is when birds build their nests, raise their chicks and teach them how to fly. It’s also the season of graduations and marriages – young adults take wing and their parents join the ranks of empty nesters.

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Wings
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Gardener’s Lament ~ A Poem

Gardener's Lament

The Ups and Downs of Asparagus

I’m far from being an expert on asparagus. In fact, I’ve been a little disappointed in my asparagus harvest, so I decided to do some research to see if there’s something I can do to improve it for next year. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned, along with my experience, the ups and downs of asparagus.

A Favorite Veggie

We love asparagus! It’s so easy to prepare, and even tasty right there in the garden. It’s amazingly sweet and delicious. It’s also a perennial, which means it comes back year after year. It can grow in part-shade which is a bonus to gardeners that don’t have enough full-sun areas, but it’s more productive in full sun. It’s also one of the first harvestable vegetables, coming up in early spring. When you’ve gone through the winter without harvesting anything from the garden, it’s a sight for sore eyes!

The first emerging spear. How exciting!
First Lessons

I don’t remember when I planted my first crowns, I’d guess about five or six years ago. That first batch I planted in one of the raised beds in my veggie garden, along with strawberries. They actually grow very well together, but I found that when it came time to harvest strawberries that it was annoying trying to find and pick them while asparagus ferns were poking me in the eye or getting caught in my hair. Also, when I planted them I really didn’t know how large they would get. With that first bit of experience I decided I wanted to move them out of the raised bed and to somewhere in the ground where they wouldn’t take up that valuable real estate and would have more room to grow. I tried to dig up those crowns to relocate them. A few I wasn’t able to dig up at all, and the ones that I did get out and tried to transplant didn’t make it. Another lesson learned: plan carefully where you want to put your asparagus, it can live twenty years or more and does not like to be moved.

The above picture shows a few of the original crowns sending up some spears earlier this season. You can see the various stages of growth. The very tallest one is starting to make a fern. The next tallest ones are beginning to separate the tips. Then there are a few visible ones that are at the perfect stage for harvest, about 8-12″ with tightly closed tips. (The strawberries relocated themselves to another bed, so those are some older plants, too, but that’s a different story. In the back right corner is some cilantro, and in the background you can see some guineas at work in the yard. In the foreground is a “walking onion.”)

New Experiment

Just about a year ago I decided to plant some new young crowns in my front yard flower garden. I may live to regret it, but I thought I’d try planting some among my flowers.The Ups and Downs of Asparagus The ferns are actually kind of attractive in bouquets, and as a backdrop to the other plants. Some of the crowns have taken off and are doing very well. I think they’re the ones near other plants that draw my attention when watering. Others, in more remote areas of the garden are slower to get going. At the moment, I’m glad I did, because the roses make a pretty backdrop to the asparagus, and the contrast makes it easier to see the fine foliage. The ferns get quite tall, about four feet, and quite often flop over.

The Ups and Downs of Asparagus
Although my camera didn’t focus very well on it, the rosebush behind it makes it easier to see this fern developing. It’s about four feet high.
The Ups and Downs of Asparagus
Close-up of fine foliage.
Genders

Did you know that asparagus has male and female? They’re quite easy to tell apart. In fact, if you tried, you might be able to guess what their differences are.

Female plants send up shoots that are thinner and shorter than males, and they also produce seeds. I didn’t have a photo of the seeds, but they’re just little red balls. I was showing my son the asparagus and telling him about them. I found a few seeds so I gave them to him and he sprouted them, along with his other seeds. Here’s a picture of his seedlings to help you with identification.

The two straight seedlings are those of asparagus. They, too, will form tiny ferns, and that’s the stage I discover them in the garden.
Close-up of asparagus fern

The male spears are thicker (stronger) and taller. Their spears are often as thick as my thumb. If you look back up at the photo from the raised bed, you can see that some of the spears are noticeably thicker and taller than the others.

Easy

I’ve found asparagus to be pretty easy and low-maintenance. They can get pests and diseases, but I really haven’t had a problem with either. They perform best in enriched, well-draining soil, which explains why they liked my raised bed so much.

I’ve been amazed at how easily asparagus self-sows. I find little seedlings quite often in my gardens. If you don’t want that, then you’ll want to collect the seeds. Also, it’s possible to buy only male crowns. Occasionally, I’ll gather seeds and go toss them at the edge of the woods. I don’t know if they’ll grow there, but I thought that would be a fun surprise someday if they did. Can you ever have too much asparagus? I didn’t think so, either. Have you priced it in the stores lately?!

Brushing Up

Okay, now to do a little reading to see what I might be able to improve upon. Here are a few mental notes I made:

  • I read someone suggesting to cover asparagus crowns with leaves for the winter. With my gardening practices that happens on its own. I usually leave some of the dead stems, simply to mark where the growing crowns are so I don’t accidentally damage them before the new spears start to appear again. Asparagus also likes organic material, so that seems to be a good practice.
  • There are some references that describe how to prepare an ideal bed for asparagus. I felt like that was done in the original raised bed, but not so much in the front yard. If you’re getting ready to plant yours, you might want to follow Rodale’s advice.
  • Asparagus, especially young crowns, doesn’t like to compete with other plants. I’ve read to weed around them and heavily mulch them.

I’m thinking that I may just need to keep up what I’ve been doing and be patient. The crowns in the front yard are still very young, and there aren’t very many of the older ones in the garden. I didn’t find anything that I’ve done terribly wrong. Patience may be the key word with asparagus.

Harvesting

When – You want to harvest asparagus when it’s about a foot tall, or so. You want the tip to still be tightly closed. Asparagus grow amazingly fast, so you’ll want to check it often during its growing season. Once it begins to make a fern, it’s too late. You don’t want to harvest all of the spears because the plant needs to store energy through the ferns for the next year, so leave some spears to mature. Later in the season when they’ve yellowed, you can cut them back, or remove them altogether. I like to leave a few “stumps” just to mark where the plants are, for their protection and also so I’ll know where to start watching for spears the next spring. The harvest season varies with the age of the crowns. You don’t want to harvest any for the two years. The third year you can harvest for about four weeks. When they’re four years or older, it’s about 8-12 weeks long.

How – I think the easiest way is just to grasp the spear and snap it off. You can use a knife to cut them off, but you might not get all of the woody part off, or conversely you might cut off some of the tender part. If you’ve already cut them, or bought some from the store, hold the spear with both hands and bend it until it snaps. It will snap in the perfect place! Easy! Fun, even. Show young ‘uns how to do it and let them help. Harvested spears will keep pretty well in the refrigerator for several days. I put a little water in the bottom of a glass, stand the spears upright in it, and put it in the fridge.

Eating

One of my favorite ways of cooking asparagus is amazingly easy. I place the rinsed asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over it. Roll the asparagus around a little, then sprinkle garlic salt over it. I roast it at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, taking it out halfway to roll them around a little more. If I’m baking fish I’ll sometimes add the asparagus around it.

I also like to chop up fresh asparagus to add to salads, and it’s also awesome to add to creamy pasta dishes!

Preserving

I haven’t had enough asparagus to worry about preserving it. I really don’t like it canned because it’s too mushy. I might try freezing it if it gets to where I have more than we can eat. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful with that.

If you have tips on growing and preserving, please share them. I would love to learn more about one of my favorite vegetables!

This post was shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop and the Homesteader Hop.

The Ups and Downs of Asparagus