Useful information

Asparagus is a forgotten delicacy

Not in every garden you can find this amazing plant, although all gardeners know it. They know mainly for flower bouquets from socialist times, when each bouquet for schoolchildren or heroes of the day was decorated with a delicate fluffy sprig of asparagus, or asparagus.

Until recently, asparagus was known to our gardeners only as an ornamental plant. And at that time in the West, young juicy shoots of asparagus were in special demand - a delicacy that not even everyone has heard of here. It turned out that asparagus as a vegetable crop has been known to people since antiquity. It was respected by the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans, and the Egyptians also attributed medicinal and magical properties to it. In Germany, it was a royal vegetable, its sale to ordinary people was forbidden, the entire harvest had to go to the royal table. Since the 18th century, it has been valued and cultivated as a vegetable in Russia as well. In many landowners' estates, asparagus was grown for the lord's table.

Currently, asparagus is intensively grown in the United States, as well as in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. It's a shame to say that asparagus comes to our counters from abroad, and the prices, of course, are fantastic.

Since gardeners know little about this most useful vegetable, I will tell you more about it.

Nutritional value

Asparagus eats young white shoots that develop in the ground from buds wintering on the rhizome, or young green shoots that have just come to the surface.

The special value of this vegetable is that it appears in early spring, when there are almost no other vegetables in the garden.

Due to its low calorie content, asparagus is quickly absorbed by the body. White shoots are rich in protein, which contains the essential amino acid asparagine, named after asparagus because it was first discovered in it. They contain a lot of vitamins, especially B1 and B2, minerals (calcium, sodium, magnesium, ferric chloride, phosphoric acid, etc.). Green shoots are less fibrous and more valuable in chemical composition than white ones. They contain more dry matter, proteins, vitamin C, vitamins of group B. In addition, they contain substances that include sulfur. The tops of the shoot head are the most delicious and aromatic parts of the shoots.

 

Healing properties

The healing properties of asparagus have long been known in folk medicine. Thanks to asparagine, it is used to treat dropsy and gout, cystitis and kidney stones. From its shoots and rhizomes, infusions, special syrups are made. It has been found that the consumption of asparagus helps to lower blood pressure, normalizes heart function, dilates peripheral vessels, and improves liver function. Diet meals are prepared from asparagus, which are especially useful for diseases of the kidneys, liver, gout, diabetes and others. The constant consumption of asparagus in food increases vitality.

Biological features

Asparagus, or asparagus, is a perennial plant in the asparagus family. The name "asparagus" comes from the Greek word "asparasso", which means "vomiting violently." Indeed, it is difficult to get out of the thickets of asparagus without torn clothes: straight, up to 2 m tall, branched green semi-lignified stems are covered with a huge number of needles. In fact, these needles are not leaves, but shortened twigs that function as leaves. Real leaves are reduced into small scales, from the axils of which these branches emerge. They can be single or bundled.

The asparagus root system is very well developed. The rhizome grows annually from above and dies off from below, as a result of which, over time, the bush and root system rise up to the soil surface. In the central part of the rhizome, the bases of the stems and vegetative buds are concentrated, from which new thick juicy shoots will grow in the spring of next year.This part of the bush with stems is surrounded by radially diverging filamentous roots in which nutrients are stored. These roots live for about six years. When the old roots gradually die off, new ones grow from above. In the spring, thin suction roots appear, which die off by winter. Most of the roots are shallow in the soil, but individual roots can go very deep. The underground part of the shoot is white, after emergence, the shoots turn green, over time they woody, fruits are formed on them - bright red balls, similar to berries.

Asparagus is a dioecious plant: male and female flowers are located most often on different individuals. Male flowers are more yellow, in the shape of a bell, their pistil is underdeveloped, but the stamens are two rows. Female flowers are smaller, they are pale, they have a well-developed pistil and poorly developed stamens. Male plants are more early maturing and more developed: they grow more stems than female ones, and they are thinner and coarser. Female plants produce thick shoots, but in small quantities, but they are very delicate. The yield of shoots from a bed of male plants alone is much higher than from a bed with mixed crops. The number of male and female plants when sowing seeds is approximately the same.

Asparagus plants can grow in one place for up to 15-20 years. They are very hardy, especially males. They winter well in the conditions of the Leningrad region, even with a small layer of snow, because the rhizomes of adult plants can withstand frosts up to 30 ° C. Adult plants are not afraid of frost, however, young stems, as well as seedlings from seeds, very often suffer from them in the spring.

Growing conditions

Asparagus is generally an unpretentious plant, however, in order to get delicate tasty shoots, it needs to create certain conditions.

1. Sunny or slightly shaded areas.

2. Loose sandy loam soil, rich in nutrients. On poor soils, shoots become fibrous and tough. Asparagus grows poorly on heavy clay and cold soils. Asparagus does not like acidic and even slightly acidic soils.

3. Soils should be sufficiently moist, but without close standing of groundwater. With a lack of moisture, the shoots turn out to be tough and bitter, with an excess of moisture, the roots rot.

Growing

Asparagus is propagated mainly by seeds, through seedlings in an open ridge or in a greenhouse, in a nursery. In addition to seed, reproduction is possible in spring by dividing old bushes into several parts. In the fall, this method is not always successful, because the cuttings sometimes die in winter, especially if they are taken from the bushes of not their first youth.

Seeds can be sown for seedlings in March - April. However, there will be less hassle, and the seedlings are of better quality if they are sown in a seedling bed or in a warm place specially allocated in the garden. In this case, the best sowing time in the Leningrad region is the first decade of June. To accelerate the emergence of seedlings before sowing, the seeds are soaked for 2-3 days, changing the water daily, then put on a damp cloth on a platter for 7-8 days until the seeds hatch. Then the hatched seeds are sown on a prepared place to a depth of 3 cm in rows with a distance of 20 cm between them, in a row - 5 cm, if it is, of course, not 2-3 seeds. Immediately after the emergence of seedlings, they are thinned out, leaving a distance of 15–20 cm. You should not leave the thinning procedure for later, because the roots of the plants grow strongly, and it will be very difficult to pull them out of the ground without disturbing the neighboring plants.

Seedling care is weeding, feeding, loosening the soil. In dry weather, watering is required. They are fed immediately after the emergence of shoots with ammonium nitrate, and three weeks after the first one, the second feeding is done with slurry.

By the fall of the first year, well-groomed seedlings have 2-3 stalks and a developed root system ("spider"). For the winter, plantings are mulched with a layer of peat or compost.At the same time, they begin to prepare the ground for planting seedlings in a permanent place.

Soil preparation. For good growth and active formation of shoots, all rhizomes of perennial weeds must be removed from the planting site. The soil must be loosened to a depth of 30–40 cm. Then deacidify it with lime or chalk until it is almost neutral. For each future plant, add 3-4 shovels of rotted manure or compost, or a bucket for each square meter of planting, add complete mineral fertilizer.

An excellent planting option is to dig a hole under each plant with a diameter and depth of up to 40 cm. Put a layer of humus 15–20 cm on its bottom, sprinkle a heap of garden soil 10 cm high on it. Place the plant on this heap, spread the roots over it, cover it with their layer of soil with humus and fertilizers 5–7 cm thick. As the shoots grow, this layer is increased to the edges of the dug hole.

Planting plants in a permanent place. In the spring of next year, seedlings with a strong root system and three shoots are selected and planted in a permanent place. If the seedlings are weak, then you can leave them in the nursery until the next fall. By this time, with good nutrition, the seedlings will have time to bloom, and it will be possible to select male or female specimens from among them. On female specimens, berries are formed.

The best dates for planting seedlings in a permanent place in our area is the first half of May. Can be planted in the second half of August (dates are indicated without taking into account climate change in recent years).

If you propagate asparagus by dividing the bush, then the rhizome is cut with a knife at the dug out bush with a knife (they are clearly visible), which are planted in a permanent place in the same way as seedlings. The next spring, the plants are spud up to a height of 25–30 cm (or throw a pile of hay on them). When the tops of the head appear, the shoots are cut off and carried to the kitchen. Thus, when propagating asparagus by dividing the bush, we save a couple of years, compared to the seed method.

When planting in a permanent place, you need to remember that we plant the plants for 15–20 years, and over time they will grow strongly. Therefore, the planting does not need to be thickened, but a distance of 35-50 cm should be left between the bushes.

Leaving and harvesting. In the first two years after planting in a permanent place, the plants are huddled two or three times during the summer, fed with mineral and organic fertilizers, weeded, loosened the soil. For the winter, the stems are cut, the soil is loosened and mulched with compost or humus.

In the third year (or the fourth after sowing the seeds), you can start harvesting the shoots. Plants, covered with humus or highly huddled, form white shoots, because such shoots grow only in the dark. They are called bleached, or etiolated. Usually, in the spring, the plants are huddled high precisely for the purpose of bleaching. I managed to get bleached shoots easier: in the spring I throw heaps of hay or cut weeds on the asparagus bushes that have not yet woken up. Then I remove the hay and cut off the shoots that have grown under it.

Green shoots do not huddle and are harvested at a length of 15–18 cm, when they have a dense head. Shoots are cut daily as needed. This must be done carefully so as not to damage the roots with buds.

The youngest bushes are harvested within 2-3 weeks. With older bushes, this pleasure can be extended for a month and a half. Then the asparagus is fed with mineral fertilizer. After that, the plant is given complete freedom of growth and the opportunity to make food reserves for the next season. It is imperative to feed the asparagus, otherwise it will quickly become depleted. Once every 3-4 years, you need to give organic fertilizer, best of all - rotted manure. For several years now, instead of manure, several times during the summer I have mulched plantings with mowed and chopped grass from a lawn mower, I preliminarily put a full mineral fertilizer under the layer of grass, I embed it in the soil. The asparagus is doing great. Sometimes I add rotted manure to the mulch, if I can get it, or compost.

Usually in our region the first harvest is ready in the second half of May. Under a film cover, you can get a harvest even earlier - it all depends on the weather. Cut off shoots that did not immediately reach the kitchen counter can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

So, it seems that the asparagus will not grow soon, and therefore you don't want to plant it. However, in reality, these three or four years will pass quickly and imperceptibly. And then it turns out that luxurious asparagus bushes are growing in your garden. Three bushes are enough for a small family. And now on sale there are seeds of many varieties of asparagus, differing in the height of the bush, early maturity, the color of young shoots, etc.

Asparagus Dishes

Asparagus is a delicacy crop. The most delicate, nutritious and rich in vitamins is the upper part, called the head. Asparagus is used for preparing first and second courses, for freezing and canning.

Soup-puree... For 300 g of asparagus - half a liter of water, 4 glasses of milk, 2 tbsp each. l. flour and oil. Cut off the heads of the shoots, peel the shoots, cut and cook in salted water for 15–20 minutes. In a skillet, fry the flour and butter, dilute it in a saucepan with milk, boil, add the asparagus along with the broth, cook for another 15 minutes. Rub through a sieve, salt. When serving, add boiled asparagus heads.

Boiled asparagus with sauce... It is supposed to boil asparagus like this: peel the shoots, tie them into bunches of 10 pieces, cook in salted water for 30 minutes. Take out, let the water drain, remove the threads. Put the boiled asparagus on a dish. Before serving, pour over the sauce: beat 70 g of butter with 2 yolks and a tablespoon of flour. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil. You can use another sauce - croutons fried in oil.

Asparagus in breadcrumbs... Fry the boiled asparagus in a skillet in oil along with breadcrumbs.

Asparagus Orly... Dry the boiled asparagus, pour with lemon juice, salt and pepper, dip in pancake dough and fry in vegetable oil. Serve tomato sauce with ready-made asparagus.

Asparagus with cheese... Pour the asparagus boiled in salted water with sauce: 20 g each of flour, butter and 400 g of broth. In this sauce, while still hot, add 1 egg, 50 g of grated cheese, 100 g of sour cream before pouring. Sprinkle with grated cheese on top, bake everything in the oven.

Canned asparagus... Wash, peel, cut the shoots so that they are 2-3 cm below the height of the jar. Boil a little, put in a jar with the heads down, rinse with boiled water. Fill the jars with a boiling solution to which salt and sugar are added at the rate of 1 tbsp. spoon per liter of water. Roll up, sterilize for 1 hour in boiling water. After two days, re-sterilize within 30 minutes.

Asparagus for garden decoration

One female specimen can be planted. Over the years, it will grow into a powerful, spectacular multi-stem bush that will look very beautiful, especially in autumn - with beads of red berries and yellow needles. If one stalk with berries is left uncut for the winter, then in the spring they will self-sow. Self-seeding grows wherever asparagus seeds come in. Sometimes it happens that the compost heap is overgrown with tender bright green fluffy asparagus.

Caring for ornamental asparagus is the same as for asparagus planted as a vegetable. It can be fed less and watered less, it will still grow and bear fruit, only the shoots will be thinner, and the bush will grow less lush. An adult bush will not be able to defeat even the most vicious weeds.