- Choose things that stay dense and non transparent from the ground.
- Choose useful heights, especially if it's the northern boundary because you don't want to cut the winter sun.
Asparagus or Asparagus officinalis from the Liliaceae or lily Family.
Asparagus is a perennial plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas.
Vegetable names are an interesting lot and the name “asparagus” comes from the Greek language meaning “sprout” or “shoot.
- Did you know that Asparagus has been around for at least 2,000 years?
Fast forward to the 16th Century, where asparagus was eaten a lot in France and England.
During that time Asparagus was known as the “Food of Kings” because King Louis XIV of France loved to eat them.
In Fact King Louis loved them so much that he ordered special greenhouses built so he could enjoy asparagus all year-round?
There have been asparagus recipes found in Arabian love manuals as far back as the 16th century, and experts say you need to it over three consecutive days to get the full effect. Heh Heh.
Asparagus was so highly regarded in England that the thought of setting up a colony in Australia without asparagus was unthinkable, so seed was included in the list of vegetables carried by Sirius, one of the ships of the First Fleet.
If you look in old seed catalogues that date back as far as the 19th century you’ll find that Asparagus was popular with Australians even back then.
What is Asparagus exactly?
The plant has a crown that is actually an underground stem from which asparagus spears shoots
The roots are called rhizomes (pronounced rye-zomes).
On top of these rhizomes grow spears, which are tender and succulent to eat, are slightly glossy, (about 18-25cm long and 1.5-2cm wide,) with many small, bumpy, triangular scales (called bracts) concentrated in the top quarter of the stem.
- Some gardener might be thinking where can I buy Asparagus to grow?
In fact, do I buy seed, or tubers or what?
- You can in fact buy Asparagus seed, including Purple Asparagus seed from online companies such as Green Harvest or diggers.
- But now’s the time to buy something called Asparagus Crowns, and you can buy these from just about anywhere even some supermarkets.You can buy the Crowns online or from mail order catalogues as well
WHEN TO PLANT
Winter is the best time to plant asparagus crowns because that’s when they’re dormant.
Specifically though, in sub-tropical and temperate districts it’s August until November, for cold districts, from September to November.
But for arid areas, its June and July and again in January.
So what do you do with Asparagus crown really?
Be sure to buy fresh crowns, as they often dry out while on display.
- So find a sunny spot in the garden where you don’t mind some veggies growing there year after year.
- Preferably with soil that’s been given some Dolomite and heaps and heaps of compost and complete plant food.
- To plant, follow the instructions on the packet to the letter, don’t leave out anything.
- It may say something like “dig out a shallow trench 30cm wide and 20cm deep.Mix in well-rotted manure to the base of the trench and cover the base with a 5cm layer of excavated soil. “
- Place the crowns onto a small mound in the centre of the furrow, so that the roots point down at about 45°, spread the roots out carefully.
- Backfill with compost to a depth of 7.5 cm. Space the plants 45cm apart, with 1.2 m between rows. Fill in the trench gradually as growth progresses. Doesn’t sound too hard does it?
In spring Asparagus will grow long and slender with soft fernlike
- Don’t cut any spears in the first Spring, because this is when the crowns are developing.
- Spring is also the time you need to add 100g per sq m of fertiliser like fish meal or blood and bone.
- Then top with a thick hay mulch.
Asparagus produces both male and female plants shoots as male plants.
Modern cultivars are all male, as male plants produce more and better spears.
If you have any Female plants, which have berries, pull these out because the red berries are poisonous and don’t produce as many edible spears.
During Autumn and Winter the tops will go yellow and brown off, cut off the old tops about 7.5 cm from the soil surface.
Frost damage causes distorted or dead spears, often some time afterwards if the tips are just below soil level.
Cloches or fleece can hold off light frosts.
PICKING THAT ASPARAGUS
Don’t cut any spears for the first two years after planting. In the third year, gather spears for the first month of the growing season, but in following years, if the plants are strong, cut for eight weeks.
Slice off spears with a sharp knife just below the soil before they get more than 18cm tall.
In warm weather, this may mean cutting every few days.
Don’t cut any more after late December so that plants have enough time to build up their growth reserves for winter.
In the following years, mulch the beds thickly with compost and manure in late winter.
Remember patience in the early stages will help to get a life span of 15 years or even longer for your asparagus.
Spears are harvested in two ways which gives them a different colour.
White asparagus is grown below the ground and not exposed to light.
When harvested it’s cut below the surface before being lifted out of the soil.
If spears are allowed grow in sunlight they turn a green colour.
For green, only hill about 10cm (4”) and allow the spear to grow 15cm (6”) above the soil, making sure to cut the spear just below ground level.
Asparagus is most delicious when the time between cutting and serving is kept to a minimum.
When you’re cutting the spears, do it carefully to avoid injuring the crown.
Farmers harvest by a rule-of-thumb, if the spears are thicker than a pencil cut them before the spears branch, usually at approx. 20 cm high, if they are skinnier, leave them to develop and feed the crown.
- By the way, here’s a tip: Asparagus does not grow better or faster if you plant expensive two-year-old crowns, or even one-year-old crowns. Reason: they have been dug up, the roots chopped, dried and neglected, if not by the supplier, then by the gardener.
- Two-year crowns will give you a small crop in two years time. One-year crowns will give you a small crop in two years time.
- Sowing from seed will give you a small crop in two years time and they’ll be stronger. The choice is yours.
Why Is It Good For You?
Asparagus has a great flavour and is very affordable.
Asparagus is low in kilojoules, without fat or cholesterol, while providing fibre. That makes it a must for any diet, including a weight loss diet.
Asparagus contains B group vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and biotin-is a great source of folate, with a serve giving us over 20% of our daily needs.A serve of asparagus has ¼ of your RDI of vitamin C and lastly Asparagus has potassium to help keep our blood pressure healthy. • •