Asparagus Plant Information provides you with information on this herbaceous edible and medicinal plant and includes a special family recipe from my wife.  This article was in response to a request by Gina.  I didn’t think about it at the time, but this is the first request I’ve had for a specific article.  Gina, I hope you enjoy it!

Asparagus Plant Information

Asparagus Plant Information

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is an herbaceous perennial that grows 40 to 60 inches tall and dies back to the ground each winter.  They are the first green vegetables to emerge in the spring.

The harvest comes from the spring shoots every year and the harvest season is usually only two to four weeks long.

Asparagus needs lots of space to grow and prefers full sun and well-drained soil.  Although I found a couple of references that say it does not do well in heavy clay soil, mine are planted in heavy clay soil at the farm and are doing fine.  They are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9.

If you are familiar with store bought asparagus, but have never seen a mature plant, you wouldn’t recognize it.  It actually looks like a large fern plant.  You can see what the spears look like in the picture title “Asparagus Plant Information.”  You probably recognize these as asparagus spears.  The picture below titles asparagus fern shows what they look like a few weeks after they spear comes out of the ground.  As you can see, the two pictures look quite different.

Edible

Asparagus Fern [D]

Asparagus Fern [D]

Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten.  They can be eaten fresh, stir-fried, or pickled.

According to eatingwell.com: “Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.” *

DANGER: The fruit is a small red berry 6–10 mm diameter, which is poisonous to humans. DANGER

Propagation

Asparagus can be propagated by seed or by crown division.

For crown division, do the following.  Dig up the root in late fall after the last ferns have died back. Cut them into several pieces, each with some good roots, and re-plant them.  If you can’t plant them right away for whatever reason, put them in some dry Pete moss or saw dust and put them in the refrigerator and plant them after the last frost in the spring.

It may take 2 to 3 years to get started and produce,

Pruning

Asparagus roots will spread over time but diminish in production. Divide them every three years or so for a non-stop harvest year after year.  This may not be the case for colder climates where the plants go dormant during winter and have a chance to rejuvenate.

Medicinal

According to WebMD: “Asparagus is a plant. The newly formed shoots (spears), root, and “underground stems” (rhizomes) are used to make medicine. >>>> Asparagus is used along with lots of fluids as “irrigation therapy” to increase urine output. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections and other conditions of the urinary tract that cause pain and swelling. >>>> Other uses include treatment of joint pain (rheumatism), hormone imbalances in women, dryness in the lungs and throat, constipation, nerve pain (neuritis), AIDS, cancer, and diseases caused by parasites. >>>> Asparagus is also used for preventing stones in the kidney and bladder and anemia due to folic acid deficiency. >>>> Some people apply asparagus directly to the skin for cleaning the face, drying sores, and treating acne.” [A] *

According to eatingwell.com: “This herbaceous plant—along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts—is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.” [B] *

Oh that Smell

“Certain compounds in asparagus are metabolized to yield ammonia and various sulfur-containing degradation products, including various thiols and thioesters, which give urine a characteristic smell.” [C]

There are several studies cited on the Wikipedia website that cover the smell caused by eating asparagus and asparagus plant information.

Recipe

I was never a fan of asparagus before because it was always mushy, either because it came out of a can, because it was overcooked or both.  My wife got me to try her recipe and I learned to love this vegetable.  She is so wonderful that she agreed to share her recipe with all of our readers.

Tricia’s Terrific Asparagus

Cut the bottoms off, and use a potato peeler to trim the bottoms if they are thick (this will illuminate bitterness). Heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium/high heat in a frying pan and put the asparagus in.  While cooking, sprinkle with ¼ tsp lemon pepper, 1 tsp lemon juice.  Cook for only a couple of minutes, 3 or 4 max.  Seve immediately.  They will be crunchy and tasty.

[A] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-286-asparagus.aspx?activeingredientid=286&

[B] http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/health_blog/5_powerful_health_benefits_of_asparagus_you_probably_didn_t_know

[C] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus

[D] The Asparagus Fern photo is from http://www.starrenvironmental.com/ by Forest and Kim Starr. [email protected]

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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