Vegetables 101 ♥ The Beauty of Asparagus Berries | A Veggie Venture: Vegetables 101 ♥ The Beauty of Asparagus Berries

Vegetables 101 ♥ The Beauty of Asparagus Berries

The Beauty of Asparagus Berries, another unexpected closeup on vegetables ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 It's no puppy cam or funny cat video but we interrupt the usual vegetable recipe programming to get up close and intimate with ... asparagus berries. Not to eat, just to look at! and learn about! Aren't the fronds and berries just so delicate and pretty? graphic button small size size 10

WHAT ARE ASPARAGUS BERRIES? Asparagus "berries" appear in the fall on the fronds of female asparagus plants. Female plants??? Yes, there really are separate male and female asparagus plants, that makes asparagus one of numerous "dioecious" plants. [Dioecious is pronounced die-EE-shus, it means "two houses" in Greek.] Another dioecious vegetable is spinach; other dioescious plants include cannabis, date, mulberry, ginko, persimmons and currant.

WHEN DO ASPARAGUS BERRIES APPEAR? Asparagus plants produce feathery fronds near the end of the growing and harvest season. Then in late summer and early fall, green pea-sized berries begin to appear on the fronds. As autumn progresses, the berries turn bright red. (As a reference, the photos were taken on October 5th. This year, the berries were still green on October 5th.)

ARE ASPARAGUS BERRIES EDIBLE? No! Just a handful will cause severe digestive issues.

CAN YOU HARVEST ASPARAGUS BERRIES? Botanically speaking, asparagus "berries" aren't berries at all! Instead, they are seed pods, each one holds three or four seeds. This is how asparagus self-propagates. To intentionally grow new plants from these seeds, pick the red berries and allow them to dry naturally in the sun. Then break apart the pod to separate the seeds and work the seeds into the soil in your asparagus garden before frost. (You can also store the seeds inside to plant in the spring.) Berries aside, for better asparagus production during the next growing season, gardeners should trim back the asparagus fronds (including the berries) once they've yellowed and died back in the fall after frost.

SHOULD YOU CULL FEMALE ASPARAGUS PLANTS? The male plants produce a little earlier and are better overall producers. But ... um ... bad precedent, don't you think?

WHAT'S THE PLAN? Our asparagus bed has been ignored for ten years. At first, the bed produced more asparagus than we could eat! But ever since then, each year we're increasingly disappointed. Just now, I took a look around and realized that we're down to about four plants. Two (and maybe three) plants have berries so are female plants. One plant is quite large, three are quite small, maybe volunteers from prior years? So here's my plan to re-invigorate our asparagus bed. Experienced asparagus gardeners, I'd love your input!

graphic button small size size 10 Once the berries turn red, harvest the berries, let them dry and then remove the seeds.
graphic button small size size 10 Loosen the bed's soil without disturbing the roots of the existing asparagus plants.
graphic button small size size 10 Work half the asparagus seeds into the soil in the fall (on one side of the existing plants), save the rest to plant in the spring (on the other side). Write down which is where!
graphic button small size size 10 Cut back the fronds right down to the ground (arrggh ... so much for winter interest in the garden!) and put down a few inches of straw for mulch.
graphic button small size size 10 Come spring, see what happens! If the seeds planted in fall don't germinate, then I'll purchase some asparagus crowns to plant on that side. If they do, we'll harvest that side (and anything else new that takes) sparingly the first year.

SOURCES Wikipedia Bonnie Plants Gardener's Path




A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

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2 comments:

I would add that the berries can cause a severe skin rash, the plants or "ferns" can do the same. I grew up working with asparagus and learned the above at an early age. The asparagus plant caused me no problems. My grandfather would disk the asparagus field after the last harvest. Berries and "ferns" bit the dusk! It was surprising to me how the asparagus still maintained somewhat of an order to it's growing "rows". Motown Farmer

Motown Farmer ~ A whole FIELD of asparagus? What an impression that “rash” and “rows” made on you! xo

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna