Each season has its own vegetables: asparagus in spring
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) are tender and succulent spring vegetables with many beneficial properties.
Asparagus have excellent nutritional properties (fibres, vitamins and minerals); in addition, both the edible sprout and the roots of the plant (used in infusions) significantly stimulate kidney function.
They lend themselves to many uses in the kitchen: this typical spring vegetable can be used in pasta dishes, main courses or side dishes.
But how and when are they grown?
They can be grown from seeds and transplanted when the roots become too bulky. The hybrids bear more fruit, although they don’t produce seeds and therefore must be grown from saplings. The first shoots should not be cut for the first two years after sowing, in order to strengthen the plant.
At least 2 m between rows, at least 50 cm between plants in the same row.
5 to 10 plants per person.
Saplings should be bought and planted in April; seeds on the other hand should be sown in early spring. After sprouting, the young plants should be transplanted to a permanent location the following year in spring, once the soil reaches at least 10°C. The seeds take about 4 weeks to germinate.
Before sowing, it is important to fertilise the soil well with manure. The area must be protected with straw and home compost in autumn. In summer, the plants should be watered a few times with a nettle infusion.
Only necessary in the first year after transplanting, after which it’s not really required. However, a few years of drought may lead to a lighter crop, so occasional watering is nevertheless beneficial.
Can be planted with
beans, peas, broad beans, turnips, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, basil, lamb’s lettuce, spinach, marigold, nasturtium
Should not be planted with
mint, onion, garlic, shallots
Diseases and pests
Asparagus fly, asparagus rust. During the first few years, it is recommended that asparagus are grown near tomatoes, which can deter harmful insects, and to strengthen the plants by feeding them with seaweed infusions.
Cut the new shoots in spring in the morning hours. Fresh shoots are best, so harvesting should be gradual and the harvest should be cooled immediately in cold water.
They can be stored for a short time in the fridge wrapped in a damp cloth, or in a glass as small bunches. They can be preserved in vinegar or brine. Young plants grow back in 2 to 4 weeks, older ones in 12 weeks. Leave at least six shoots on the plant to ensure growth.
Consume young shoots when they sprout in spring. They contain C, E and B group vitamins, asparagine alkaloid, essential oil and tin, molybdenum and silicon. They are good for the kidneys and liver and cleanse the whole body.
They are perennial plants, so before sowing the soil should be cleared of any weeds and dug deeply, as asparagus have very deep roots. The root system develops to the left and right, rather than in circles. Therefore, roots should be prevented from spreading into the space between the rows, to avoid damaging them when the soil is being treated.
The planting area should be covered in autumn with a layer of straw and compost, which is then removed in spring.
Asparagus originate from Asia Minor and Central Asia . White asparagus are grown in a special way, as the shoots are covered and bleached. Growing large sprouts is difficult. These sprouts also only contain half the useful nutrients.