It is one of the most unusual vegetables and has a very particular taste, the habit of eating asparagus comes from the time of the Romans, who cultivated it in large quantities. The asparagus is made up of well-developed buds of a semisempreverde herbaceous plant, native to Mediterranean and European coastal areas; being a perennial plant the flowerbeds in which asparagus are grown will be destined for this for a long time: a well cultivated asparagus can produce for at least ten years. The botanical name of the variety known by all for its cultivation as an edible plant is Asparagus officinalis.
The asparagus plants develop large creeping, very vigorous rhizomes, from which they develop erect stems, called turioni; from these shoots originate plants of Asparagus officinalis also very voluminous, which can reach 45-75 cm in height, consisting of very thin, very ramified stems, which bear thin, almost needle-like leaflets. The visual result is that of small disordered shrubs, which often remain in the garden throughout the year.
Asparagus is a dioecious plant, meaning that male flowers and female flowers develop on different plants; female plants also produce fruits in summer: small red or orange berries.
The most appreciated Asparagus officinalis shoots are the thick and full-bodied ones, which are consumed after being cooked. There are green asparagus, and they are the most common, normally originating from asparagus plants; white asparagus, on the other hand, are cultivated turions tucking in the plants as soon as they begin to sprout, so as not to allow the shoots to receive sunlight; the violet asparagus on the other hand are white asparagus whose tips have been placed in sunlight during the last stages of ripening before harvesting.
Developing mainly at a shallow level, asparagus needs specially prepared soil; in fact they need a medium fertile soil, very well drained and very soft. Generally an asparagus is prepared by working the soil thoroughly, mixing organic fertilizer and a good amount of it, which will keep the soil soft and airy. In this land the rhizomes are placed directly, buying them already ready, or transplanting them from a seedbed prepared previously; the asparagus plant is planted at the end of winter, before temperatures become spring and the days get too long. Every year the soil is enriched with organic fertilizer or slow release granular fertilizer; it is essential to constantly monitor the development of weeds, promptly removing them as they begin to develop. Watering is provided only when the soil is well dry, in fact asparagus well tolerates drought and does not like heavy and wet soils; However, it is best to avoid leaving the plants for a long time without watering, which could cause excessively tough leathery shoots to develop. Starting from well-developed rhizomes, an asparagus will begin to produce in a couple of years.Asparagus - Asparagus officinalis: Characteristics
Asparagus is highly appreciated for its intense and aromatic flavor; they are also used in herbal medicine and in homeopathic medicine, due to the many active ingredients they contain; in particular, they are the edible vegetable with the greatest amount of folic acid, used particularly during pregnancy, to prevent the development of certain diseases in the fetus.