Botanical Name: Asparagus officinalis
How to grow it:
Asparagus is a flowering perennial plant which dies back in winter and is harvested in spring for it’s emerging spears. It’s a fascinating plant to grow and harvest.
An easy to grow plant, but you’ll need to have patience. It might take a few years before you get serious harvests. One of the best things about asparagus is that it will grow in most climates so it’s very likely it will grow in yours.
The better position you can give it, the better the results. Full sun, deep, fertile soil, regular addition of fertiliser. It is a very hardy plant though – in tougher conditions it will just give less spears.
You can start asparagus from seed if you can wait until the 3rd year for your crops. You’ll get better crops in the 2nd year by sourcing crowns (below ground parts) or dividing your own. I’ve always just gone the seed option and waited the extra year.
Nutrition: Asparagus is a seriously nutritious plant. Spears have high levels of Vitamins A, B, & C, E, & K, potassium, iron, phosphorous, copper, manganese & many other nutrients. Also thought to be high in antioxidants
Using it in the kitchen:
You’ve never really tasted asparagus until you’ve picked some fresh & eaten it raw. It’s a much more subtle flavour and the spears are so tender they almost melt in your mouth. In my home, the spears don’t usually make it to the table as competition is so high for them straight from the garden.
If you do manage to get some to the kitchen, try eating it raw in salads
In cooking, it should be lightly steamed or stir fried – 1-2 minutes is plenty
They’ll store for a week or so in the fridge, but the basic idea is to eat them as soon as you can after picking.
Asparagus is a great addition to your edible garden as it’s so easy to grow & rewards with repeated crops of nutritious vegetables year in year out.