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Asparagus officinalis, Asparagus - Mary Washington


Mary Washington is an american bred early season variety, producing dark green spears. Reliable and a popular choice for crown production.

Asparagus is often cultivated as a luxury vegetable. Well-tended plants can be long-lived, an asparagus bed can last for well over 20 years.

Asparagus is a good companion plant for tomatoes, parsley and basil. When grown together, tomatoes help to protect asparagus from the asparagus beetle. Asparagus is said to repel the nematodes that can infect tomatoes. A good bee plant.

Asparagus has been cultivated for over 2,000 years as a vegetable and medicinal herb. Both the roots and the shoots can be used medicinally, they have a restorative and cleansing effect on the bowels, kidneys and liver.

The plant contains asparagusic acid, which has nematocidal properties.

Easily grown in any good garden soil. Prefers a rich well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position.

Pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in early autumn in a greenhouse. It usually germinates in 3 - 6 weeks at 25°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.

Large quantities of the shoots can irritate the kidneys. The berries are mildly poisonous.

Edible Uses
Young shoots - raw or cooked. Considered a gourmet food, the shoots are harvested in the spring. Very acceptable raw in salads, with a hint of onion in their flavour. They are normally boiled or steamed and used as a vegetable. Male plants produce the best shoots. Do not over-harvest the plant because this would weaken it in the following year. The shoots are a good source of protein and dietary fibre.
Roasted seeds are a coffee substitute.


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