Asparagus or garden asparagus, scientific name Asparagus officinalis, is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus.
The fleshy green spears of asparagus are both succulent and tender and have been considered a delicacy since ancient times.
This highly prized vegetable arrives with the coming of spring when its shoots break through the soil and reach their 6-8 inch harvest length.
Here in Andalucia planting a new field of Asparagus is a very labour intensive but the rewards, both financial and physical are well worth the effort.
One of the great past times is searching the hills for wild Asparagus, this is very fine, lighter in colour but absolutely delicious.
What’s New and Beneficial about Asparagus?
Recent research has underscored the value of careful storage and speedy consumption of fresh asparagus. The key scientific finding here involves the respiration rate. Like all vegetables, asparagus doesn’t instantly “die” when it is picked, but instead, continues to engage in the metabolic activity.
This metabolic activity includes intake of oxygen, the breaking down of starches and sugars, and the releasing of carbon dioxide.
The speed at which these processes occur is typically referred to as “respiration rate.”
Compared to most other vegetables, asparagus has a very high respiration rate.
At 60 milligrams of carbon dioxide release per hour per 100 grams of food (at a refrigerator temperature of 41°F) This rate is five times greater than the rate for onions and potatoes; three times greater than the rate for lettuce and tomato; and twice as great as the rate for cauliflower and avocado.
Asparagus’ very high respiration rate makes it more perishable than its fellow vegetables, and also much more likely to lose water, wrinkle, and hardens.
By wrapping the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper or cloth towel, you can help offset asparagus’ very high respiration rate during refrigerator storage. Along with this helpful step, you will want to consume asparagus within approximately 48 hours of purchase. You could always stand it in a bowl of cold water, that keeps it very fresh for longer.
Find out more about the benefits of Asparagus from this link.
Asparagus in Los Ranos
Up until two years ago, there was very little asparagus grown around the Trabuco area. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed like the world and his wife were crouched down planting asparagus. Mind you, I didn’t even them one bit! it looked like it was real backbreaking work.
The first we knew, a few cars turned up at the fields to the right of our little barrio, they had a lot of sacks containing what looked like dead weeds. Like these, in the photo.
Preparing to plant Asparagus. The hard bit (For now!)
First, they ploughed the land, and, whilst this was going on, the workers separated these bags of weed-like crowns into single plants. When the land was ready, four people planted the asparagus crowns one at a time. Making sure they were spaced out correctly. This took the best part of a week. They were then covered over with soil and that was pretty much that, for the moment at least.
From time to time, these same four people would turn up and, on their hands and knees, went all over the land to pull out any weeds, by hand. It looks like a horrible job.
Eventually, we saw the first tips of the new asparagus and, before long, they were shooting up all over the place. They look like bright green feather dusters. Again, these same four people were back, on their hands and knees, pulling up the weeds.
Once the Asparagus has grown up, some are taken as a first harvest but not them all. They are allowed to go to seed, after which they are cut to ground level and burned. The surface of the land is then rotovated and made ready for the next year.
So, the next time you get to chow down on some tasty asparagus, think of the poor people who have to harvest the stuff on their hands and knees.
Along with the wheat and asparagus comes the beautiful corn poppies. The fields around Villa And Villanueva del Trabuco are blood red with the hundreds of thousands of poppies and are truly a wonderful sight.