In the wild, asparagus often grows in coastal habitats where it thrives in soils that are too salty for normal weeds to grow. The first shoots that appear in the spring and are picked first are known as ‘sprue asparagus’. This first batch has thin stems: the next crop will be thicker, but no less flavoursome.
If you are looking for something a little different, why not grow purple asparagus? It differs from its green and white counterparts by being richer in sugar and lower in fibre.
Purple asparagus was originally developed in Italy, near the city of Albenga and can often be found for sale under the variety name ‘Violetto d’ Albenga’. It’s worth taking note that purple asparagus can also turn green while being cooked as it’s sensitive to heat.
You often find white asparagus White asparagus is not a separate variety, but it is simply asparagus grown in the absence of sunlight to prevent chlorophyll from developing, in flavour white asparagus is slightly sweeter.
How to grow asparagus
To get the best from Asparagus it needs to have space and a long-term commitment. However, it is defiantly worth the wait. Always remember that it’s not a quick crop to get established, and you should not harvest the spears for the first few years, as it needs time to get established before you start to harvest, but it can keep cropping for over 20 years.
Where to plant asparagus
Asparagus grows best in light, well-drained soil. You can still grow asparagus on heavy soil, but it is worth creating a raised bed. When you are deciding where to plant your Asparagus, it grows best in an open sunny site and will grow best if you incorporate lots of organic matter such as well-rotted compost and is free of weeds.
When to plant asparagus crowns
Asparagus can be raised from seed, but the most reliable method is to plant one-year-old dormant plants called ‘crowns’ in late winter. Many gardeners plant Asparagus crowns at the same time they plant their potatoes.
How to plant asparagus crowns
You need to dig a hole a little wider than the width of the roots and bury the crowns, so the tip is just sticking out of the ground – make sure to spread the roots wide. If you are planting several plants, you may find it easier to plant in a trench.
Don’t forget to keep the newly planted asparagus plant both well-watered and weed-free. Is important to give the plant time to establish and not pick any for at least two years. Let them develop lots of ferny foliage so they can become strong and established.
In the autumn, each year once the leaves have turned yellow cut them back to approximately 10cm above soil level and cover them with well-rotted compost.
Asparagus Pacific 2000
The heavy crops of uniform spears are reliable and easy to achieve. The stems themselves are so tender they can be eaten raw with a superb flavour considered by many to be the sweetest of all asparagus.
Asparagus Pacific Purple
This purple variety was bred in recently in New Zealand. Pacific Purple is high-performing, producing higher yields than Purple Passion as well as many of the green varieties. It is unique in the way its extra thick spears hold a deep purple colour in warmer weather and is very tender with a sweet flavour.
Asparagus Backlim Bare Root
Love asparagus? Take your love to the next step with the unbeatable flavour of your own homegrown asparagus. Backlim is a great variety to try and will provide you with a flavour quite different to what you will find in the shops.