Plant of the week: asparagus

The dew droplets deposited on the feathery foliage of our Asparagus plants glint beautifully in the morning sun, as we go about cropping vegetables for the kitchen in the crisp autumn air.

The Asparagus season is long over, but the foliage still towers over neighbouring plants, in the sheltered walled garden. It can both be a difficult and highly rewarding plant to grow, as it doesn’t tolerate any competition, waterlogging or root disturbance and the soil has to be finely dug to remove any perennial weeds prior to planting. Female plants are rumoured to be less productive than male and can be spotted by their orange berries. It may be advisable to replace them with male clones, for higher yields.

We can recommend the cultivar ‘Connover’s Colossal’, which produces nice thick shoots, while the purple coloured varieties such as ‘Purple Passion’ have failed to impress.
The first shoots will be ready for harvesting three years after planting. The cropping season usually stretches between 8-10 weeks, starting in late April. The succulent shoots are brought fresh to the kitchen every morning, where they are lovingly prepared with the most extraordinary combinations of flavour for our dinner guests. The flavour of home-grown produce more than makes up for the extra care we provide for this finicky plant.

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