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Productive Plant – Asparagus

by Debbie Bassingthwaighte

Botanical Name: Asparagus officinalis

Common Names:  AsparagusSparrow Grass

Description:  Asparagus is a hardy, long-lived, winter-dormant, herbaceous perennial with ferny growth to 1.5 m high.  Its young shoots or spears are widely used as a spring and early summer vegetable crop.  Asparagus is usually dioicous and has both male and female flowers on separate plants.  The male plants produce more spears and the female plants produce fewer but slightly larger spears.  Plant it once and you’ll enjoy harvesting spears for up to 20 years!

Culinary Uses:  Asparagus can be enjoyed both raw and cooked.  It is rich in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including potassium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, folate and fibre.  It begins to lose its sweetness as soon as it’s picked so it’s best to eat or cook immediately if possible.  Asparagus has many culinary uses and is often served in soups, salads, stir-fries, frittatas, quiches and pasta, grilled with egg or lightly sautéed in butter.  Asparagus can also be pickled and stored for 12 months or more.