There's nothing quite like the crunch and taste of fresh asparagus. And growing your own really is easy - all you need is a sunny area and well-drained soil that's been enriched with plenty of organic matter. Do it right and reap the many benefits of this vitamin-packed vegetable including...
- Asparagus is low in kilojoules, without fat or cholesterol, while providing fibre and inulin (a very important prebiotic).
- Asparagus provides the essential B group vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and biotin.
- Asparagus is a great source of folate, with a serve giving you over 20% of your daily needs. Folate is important for expectant mothers and for reducing heart disease risk.
- A serve of asparagus provides about a quarter of our daily needs of vitamin C.
- Asparagus has a brilliant range of bio-active compounds, such as antioxidants like rutin and beta-carotene. The research strongly suggests that the bioactive compounds in asparagus are keeping us healthy, well into old age.
- Asparagus has potassium and the compound nicotianamine to help keep your blood pressure healthy.
Want to make make your asparagus go the distance? Once picked, keep them fresher for longer by storing them similar to fresh cut flowers. Stand the spears upright in a container with 1cm of cold water, cover and place in the fridge. Now, here's how to get growing...
Dig a trench about 20cm deep and 20–30cm wide.
Set the asparagus crowns about 30–50cm apart, placing each on a small mound of soil to support roots.
Cover crowns with about 5cm soil. Firm soil around crowns and water them well. As the fern grows, keep adding more soil until bed is level with surrounding garden.
Water regularly and feed periodically through summer with a high-nitrogen fertiliser to encourage plenty of ferny top growth. In winter, cut down dry yellow fern to just above ground level. Fertilise again in late winter to encourage spear growth in spring. Don’t cut any spears in first spring after planting. Harvests can increase each following year as plants grow older.
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