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Asparagus - 2000 Years On The Table
Asparagus - 2000 Years On The Table

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Let's revive the asparagus plant forgotten in Russia

Asparagus
Asparagus

Asparagus is a culture of the widest distribution and the richest history. For more than 2000 years, man has been consuming this plant for food. Two centuries before our era, Cato cited a treatise - a description of agricultural technology, by the way, this description is quite relevant for today.

It is now difficult to establish the exact homeland of asparagus, there are only assumptions based on which it is the eastern Mediterranean, although the arguments in favor of the south of Russia and even Poland sound quite convincing.

Initially, attention was paid to asparagus solely because of its medicinal qualities, and in ancient Greece this culture was even deified. Asparagus branches were used to decorate the outfits of the newlyweds; it was believed that the asparagus branch symbolized a long family journey. It is reliably known that asparagus began to be grown as an edible plant in ancient Rome. Many descriptions of this plant have been preserved in the works of many Roman scientists and naturalists of that time. The ancient Romans especially revered the tonic effect of asparagus, they, honoring this culture, made amulets, placed asparagus particles there and wore them around their necks.

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Asparagus was widespread in Egypt, as evidenced by the numerous images on the sarcophagi of the Egyptian pharaohs. At the end of the 16th century, asparagus began to be cultivated in Germany and France and sold at fairly high prices, mainly aimed at rich people. Asparagus was no less appreciated in Russia. Currently, in our country, there is no interest in this culture, alas, yet. Quite a rare occurrence of asparagus in the garden.

Rather, it is known to us as something rare, distant and not very edible, often just decorative. Our asparagus is mainly used as an integral part of bouquets. The use of asparagus as decoration is nonsense, because the culture has the richest composition, contains the irreplaceable amino acid asparagine (hence the actual asparagus got its name - asparagus). Green, young shoots of the plant contain carotene, many vitamins, among which the most are B 1, B 2, C, PP, as well as sulfur. Asparagus, due to its low calorie content, is very quickly absorbed by the human body.

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Features of culture

Asparagus
Asparagus

In addition to its vitamin properties, its economic qualities are also important. The asparagus plant is cold-resistant, so it grows well almost everywhere - both in the south and in the north, it is quite possible to get good yields. Asparagus plants overwinter easily, and already in early spring, within 45-60 days, they can give a good harvest of young shoots. The asparagus harvest is the earliest food product from the garden, or you can make it even earlier by applying forcing in the autumn-winter period.

Asparagus itself is a perennial plant belonging to the asparagus family, reaching a height of two meters and having a characteristic rhizome, central stems and the beginnings of future shoots. Asparagus is a rather demanding plant, especially to the structure of the soil and its fertility, it grows well on loose and sandy loam soil, which is often rich in nutrients, it loves deeply cultivated soils. Asparagus does not tolerate acidic soils, close occurrence of groundwater, however, moisture deficiencies can also be detrimental to it. Even with a short-term lack of moisture, shoots can grow fibrous and acquire a bitter taste.

Asparagus varieties

A few words should be said about the varieties. In Russia, gardeners give their preference to proven varieties: Yield 6, Argenteuil early, Mary Washington, young shoots of these varieties are painted in green-purple color.

Asparagus agrotechnology

Asparagus
Asparagus

It is best to place asparagus on lands with an abundance of humus, since it is not necessary to allocate large areas for this crop - a plot near a nursery or greenhouse is enough for it. Before sowing, asparagus seeds must be kept for 48 hours in warm (room temperature) water, changing it once a day - this will increase their germination.

As soon as the seeds swell, they are scattered into sawdust, and covered with wet burlap on top and placed in a place with a temperature of about 25 … 27 ° C. Usually, a week later, sprouts appear, such seeds that have hatched are sown into the soil to a depth of 2.5–3 cm at a distance of 20–25 cm between rows and 3-5 cm between plants.

Further care for asparagus consists in loosening the soil, applying additional fertilizing in the form of slurry, mineral fertilizers. Immediately after the emergence of seedlings, the plants are thinned out, leaving a distance of 10-15 cm between them. By the fall of the first year, the seedlings usually already have 2-3 stems and a fairly developed root system. In the fall, some time before frost, it is necessary to cover the nursery with peat, or rotted manure, with a layer approximately equal to five centimeters.

The next year, in the spring, only plants with a powerful root system and at least three shoots are selected for planting. It is best to plant them at the age of two; for these purposes, seedlings are chosen in the fall of next year. It is by this time that it reaches a fairly large size. In this case, it is better to take plants with 4-5 shoots for planting.

In the first two years after planting, the plants are huddled 2-3 times, fed with mineral fertilizers, and the soil must be loosened. At the beginning of its life, this culture develops rather slowly, it begins to produce products only 3-4 years after planting.

In order to somewhat speed up the period of obtaining a marketable mass, in the third year of life, fertilizers are applied twice under the plants, the first time in early spring, long before the shoots regrowth, and the second time after their cutting. In dry weather, be sure to water the plants. Although asparagus is a winter-hardy plant, it is still advisable to cover it with dry leaves, peat every autumn, and shoots that are frozen or damaged by pests or diseases must be cut off at the very surface of the soil and burned.

Asparagus
Asparagus

The productive age of asparagus bushes is about 10-15 years, while young shoots are usually cut in May, every day, and if spring is not characterized by an abundance of heat, then after about two days. After harvesting, the soil is necessarily loosened, and the crop is stored in a cold and always dark place at a temperature of about 1 ° C. Alas, it is not stored for long.

What do asparagus eat?

They eat young shoots, which have reached a length of 18-20 cm and a thickness of about 1.5 cm, the head of which is dense and unblown. Boiled asparagus is used for making salads, soups, and various side dishes. Plants are also canned and frozen.

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