If you like growing something different then you could try Asparagus Peas. Asparagus peas are seen as a real gourmet delicacy and it has a unique flavour, and many people say it tastes like a cross between asparagus and a young pea. Personally I think it tastes more like a pea then asparagus.
It’s actually a vegetable that dates back to the 1590′s and recently it seems to be getting more popular.
The asparagus peas plant is small and produces very pretty maroon flowers which don’t look similar to a sweet-pea, the flowers are followed by the small seed pods – the asparagus pea – that you harvest.
Growing Asparagus Peas – Sowing Seed
It’s best to start the seed of under glass in pots or individual trays – sow early spring. Fill the pots or tray with multi-purpose compost, water and sow an individual seed in each pot. Cover and put in a cold frame or somewhere warm – at a temperature 19 – 21C. You can sow the seeds outdoors in late spring.
The asparagus pea will usually germinate between 7-14 days. Once the plants are sturdy you will need to harden them off – harden off is when you have grow the plant indoors or in a warm place, the plants now need to ‘harden’ to get used to the weather outdoors. When the plants are big enough around 2” put them outside on a warm day and bring them in at night, do this for several days and they plants can then be planted outside. You should always start on a nice day just for the plants to get used to a different temperature.
Growing Asparagus Peas – Soil
The asparagus pea prefers a light, well-drained soil and likes to be planted in a sunny position. They also need regular watering. They are a member of the legume family, so like other legumes the roots of the plant will fix nitrogen into the soil, that’s why many gardeners plant brassicas after legumes.
Plant them outside when all risk of frost is gone. Plant them about 4” apart. They grow to a height of 12”.
Growing Asparagus Peas – Harvesting
The asparagus peas will be ready in around 50 to 60 days after planting out,
Soon after flowering you’ll see small winged pods which should be harvested when they are about 1 – 1½” long, don’t let them grow much bigger as they become stringy and tough very quickly.
If you pick the asparagus pea regularly then they will crop all summer long.
- Pick the pods often while young and tender.
- Don’t allow pods to get more than 1 – 1½” long.
- You can steam the asparagus pea and serve butter with a little bit of salt and pepper – it’s a vegetable that can go with any meal or can be served as a delicious starter. Asparagus peas can also be eating raw in salads.