Asparagus officinalis is a commonly grown vegetable that used to be classified within the lily family and is closely related to plants such as the onion, garlic and indeed lilies. The plant itself heralds from Africa, Europe and the western parts of the Asian continent.
One of the advantages of growing asparagus for many gardeners is that it makes a fantastic companion plant for tomatoes; one of the reasons for this is that compounds within the plant help to eliminate some of the more common tomato pests such as nematodes (and other worms). And the converse is also true, with the tomato plant given out compounds that are able to deter nasty pests of the asparagus plant such as beetles.
The asparagus is a very viable crop for farmers to grow as it has a lot of commercial value; indeed the European Union alone is known to import over 18,000 tonnes of the crop; the United States is an even bigger importer, and in the year 2004 alone it imported over 92,000 tonnes of asparagus. Most of the imported asparagus comes from China, though the United States also grew quite a significant amount of the crop as does Germany in Europe.
The plant gets its name from the Latin word Sparagus, which means spear. There are some other common names for the crop including sparrow grass, and Asper grass.
It is quite interesting to observe the effect that eating asparagus has upon the human body; it has been recorded that eating it causes ones urine to smell quite foul.
The plant itself is herbaceous in nature, and can reach heights of up to 5 feet, though in reality it is usually harvested at a much smaller height. Asparagus is very often used in cooking, and has a nutty taste. This is especially true for the white grown varieties. This style is especially common in Germany, where the plant is known as spargle. When the plant is in season in Germany, nearly all of the beer houses there, especially in the city of Cologne, serve up the dish. One of my favorite ways to eat it is as a soup.
Asparagus has many nutritional advantages; one of the great things about it is that it is low in calories. And not only that but it is vitamin rich too. It is very high in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E and K, and B vitamin members such as folic acid and niacin; the plant also contains many minerals such as iron, copper and manganese. This means that asparagus is a great plant to include as one of your five daily vegetables.
I am called Dean. I am a molecular biologist and owner of the Plant Biology website. I recommend that you pay a visit to the Growing Asparagus section for further information on this subject.
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