Asparagus officinalis – Vegetable garden

Asparagus officinalis an evergreen perennial herb that grows up to 40-60 inches tall with stout stems with much-branched, feathery foliage. The leaves are in fact needle-like cladodes in the axils of scale leaves and clustered 4-15 together, in a rose-like shape. It produces male and female flowers that are borne on separate plants. The flowers are bell-shaped with six tepals partially fused together at the base, they are produced singly or in clusters of two or three in the junctions of the branchlets.

The male flowers are 5-6 mm long and yellow and the female flowers are about 4 mm long and yellow-green. The fruit is a small red berry, which is toxic to humans. The fruits containing up to six black seeds with a wrinkled, brittle seed coat.

Scientific classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Asparagoideae
Genus: Asparagus
Species: A. officinalis
Scientific Name: Asparagus officinalis
Common Name: Asparagus, Garden asparagus, Sparrow grass.
Synonyms: Asparagus altilis, Asparagus caspius, Asparagus esculentus, Asparagus fiori, Asparagus hedecarpus, Asparagus hortensis, Asparagus littoralis, Asparagus oxycarpus, Asparagus paragus, Asparagus polyphyllus, Asparagus sativus, Asparagus setiformis, Asparagus vulgaris.

How to grow and care for Asparagus officinalis

Light:

It requires bright indirect light or filtered sun. Avoid direct hot afternoon sun which may cause the leaves to yellow. Tolerates full shade, but foliage may turn a lighter green.

Soil:

It grows well in organically rich, evenly moist, well-drained soils.

Temperature:

It thrives well in ideal temperature between 68°F – 72°F during daytime and temperature 50°F – 55°F for night time.

Water:

Water regularly during the growing season (from spring to autumn), Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Allow the top one inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Water sparingly in winter, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Fertilizer:

Fertilize monthly spring through fall with a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation:

Asparagus officinalis can be easily propagated by seed or division. The best time to propagate an Asparagus officinalis is in the spring before it starts producing new growth. Soak seeds for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring. It germinates in three to six weeks at 25°c.

Pruning:

Prune back stem tips as expected to maintain plant form and promote dense foliage growth. If the plant loses its attractive shape, stems may be cut back close to the soil level to regenerate.

Re-potting:

Re-pot in the standard potting soil when roots push through the top of the soil and the drainage hole. Always use a pot one size larger or you can just prune the roots.

Pests and Diseases:

Asparagus officinalis  is susceptible to Mealy Bugs, spider mites, aphids, scale, and thrips. Leaf spot and rots may occur. It does not like pesticides so use a mild solution of insecticidal soap to get rid of plant pests.

Harvesting

Asparagus harvest begins 2 years after planting. Plants may be harvested for up to 4 weeks the first year. Cut 9-inch tall spears at ground level. Remove all emerging spears during harvest since tall-growing spears suppress further spear growth. Harvest for 6-8 weeks from year Stop harvesting when the majority of spears are smaller than a pencil in diameter.

Benefits of  Asparagus officinalis

Young shoots of Asparagus are commonly eaten as raw or cooked. The shoots are prepared and served in a number of ways around the world, typically as an appetizer or vegetable side dish.

The roots and the shoots can be used medicinally, they have a restorative and cleansing effect on the bowels, kidneys, and liver.

Asparagus possess inulin which is also called prebiotic. It enhances nutrient absorption and lowers the chances of stomach allergies and cancer. An adequate amount of dietary fiber and laxative properties assist in bowel functions and eliminates constipation, bloating.

Asparagus contains an anti-urolithiasis effect which helps to treat urinary tract infections.

The extracts of Asparagus possess essential amino acids which effectively cure hangovers caused due to the substantial consumption of alcoholic drinks. Fatigue, anxiety, vomiting, and dehydration are the symptoms of hangovers. The study on the research shows that the shoots and leaves of Asparagus possess inorganic mineral content which assists to protect the liver cells from the toxic effects of alcohol.

Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, also known as vitamin B9.

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