The asparagus pea is one of the prettier vegetable plants with its sweet-pea like flowers and frilled/winged edible pods. It will brighten up any vegetable bed or look great in a pot on a patio. It has a long summer cropping period meaning that it provides a continuous supply of asparagus tasting pods, perfect in a stir fry.
|When to sow
|April and May direct where they are to grow (in pots or beds or earlier indoors or under cloches).
|Where to Sow
|Sow the seeds in shallow pre-watered drills, 2cm (3/4") deep, each seed approximately 5cm (2") apart. Germination takes around 14 days, and the plant will be ready to crop in 50 days.
|What to do Next
|Seedlings sown indoors can be transplanted outside at end of May/early June after a period of hardening off. Thin to 30cm between plants, with 30 cm between rows. Or for single plants, a nice big pot. Protect seed and young seedlings from bird damage by covering with netting. Stake the plants as you would peas for support. Keep plants weed free throughout the growing season. As soon as flowers appear be sure to water well in order for pods to become plump. As soon as flowers appear be sure to water well in order for pods to become plump. Plants will grow to 30-40cm in height.
|June to September.
|Will crop all summer long if picked regularly. Pods camouflage well in the foliage and are therefore easier to pick in the evening as the leaves fold downwards. Pick pods when 2-3 cm long ( or a day or two after the flowers fade) to ensure the tenderest of pods (larger pods tend to be a bit stringy). Children will have lots of fun searching through the foliage for the unusual-shaped pods. As a member of the legume family, the roots of the plant will fix extra nitrogen into the soil, making it ideal for brassicas the following year.
|Good Companions - Carrots, Radish, Turnip, Cucumber, Maize, Beans. Bad Companions - Onion Family, Gladiolus, Potato.
|Rich in vitamins A, B1, vitamin C and folic acid.
|To cook, just top and tail the pods, stir fry, steam or lightly boil and serve with a knob of butter and seasoning.
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