White, green or purple: asparagus comes in many colors on the plate. The color does not say anything about the variety, because the color of the tasty sticks is caused by solar radiation. All asparagus belong to the vegetable asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), but are cultivated differently. Old varieties can hardly be found today due to the low yield and their susceptibility to disease, but breeding selections also dominate the hobby garden.

Differences between the asparagus varieties

Regardless of whether it is white, green or purple: it is always so-called vegetable asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), some of which we have been cultivating for centuries. Most people only know the different colors, but don’t know that they are by no means different varieties. Instead, the stalks are colored by different forms of cultivation, in which the asparagus is either not exposed to the sun at all, or is exposed to little or all of it.

  • White asparagus : also known as pale asparagus , grows exclusively in the ground, is harvested before penetrating the top soil layer
  • Purple asparagus : only partially protrudes from the ground, tips change color from contact with sunlight
  • Green asparagus : grows completely above ground, cultivation without the typical earth walls

Incidentally, green asparagus contains significantly more vitamins and minerals than the white or purple ones that grow underground. There are further differences in taste and use, because the colored asparagus have a more intense taste than white asparagus. However, these varieties are more challenging to cultivate, and the yields are around 30 percent lower. For the cultivation of the different colors different varieties are used, which have proven to be particularly suitable for the respective cultivation forms.

Tip: You should always plant beds for growing white asparagus in a north-south orientation so that the stalks grow evenly.

What is wild asparagus?

Perhaps you too have bought so-called “wild asparagus” in the display of a well-stocked supermarket or at the weekly market. It is by no means always asparagus, but in many cases the tender and young sprouts of

  • Pyrenees Milky Way ( Ornithogalum pyrenaicum )
  • Wild hops / common hops ( Humulus lupulus )
  • Forest gooseberry ( Aruncus dioicus syn. Silvestris )

You can also collect these plants in the wild or grow them in your own garden; they are used in the same way as with real asparagus. In fact, the goat’s beard in particular was considered the “asparagus of the poor” in earlier times.

But there is also a variety of green asparagus that grows wild in the forests in Croatia – especially in the Istria region – and is just as enthusiastically collected by the locals as you go looking for mushrooms here in autumn. Croatian forest asparagus is in season between March and May, during which time both Croatians and tourists celebrate it at all kinds of asparagus festivals. However, this wild asparagus cannot be found in the supermarket or at the weekly market.

Growing in the garden – patience is important

Vegetable asparagus is particularly suitable for growing in the home garden. However, if you want to try it out, you need a lot of space and good soil, and above all one thing: patience. You can only harvest the tasty stalks from the third year after planting the rhizomes (when you have sown the asparagus, even not until the fourth year). Until then, the asparagus patch must be carefully tended. Regular weeding and mulching in spring and the supply of compost or manure in autumn are mandatory. The pole vegetables find ideal growth conditions in soils that

  • nutritious
  • fumes
  • very permeable
  • as sandy as possible
  • slightly damp
  • and above all lime-free

are. In contrast, cultivation is not possible in heavy, loamy soils. But even those who do not have suitable soil in their garden do not have to do without self-grown asparagus: A stable and sufficiently large raised bed with good layers (plenty of compost!) Is also very suitable for growing royal vegetables. The only thing that should be avoided is cultivation in buckets or pots: the asparagus simply cannot find the necessary space to grow here.

Tip: Asparagus plants feel most comfortable in sandy, warm soils with pH values ​​between 5.8 and 6.3. Incidentally, harvesting is faster if you plant annual young plants in the bed instead of rhizomes or seeds.

The best asparagus varieties for the home garden

The requirements mentioned apply to all types of asparagus, of which there are a large number. How many there actually are, nobody can say for sure. Until about 100 years ago, each region had its own varieties, which had different properties and were also perfectly adapted to the respective local soil and weather conditions. However, only a few of these old asparagus varieties have survived today: the yield was often too low for commercial cultivation, and many of the historical varieties are considered extremely sensitive and susceptible to various diseases. Instead, breeding selections have prevailed, of which the following asparagus varieties are particularly suitable for home and hobby gardens.

Tip: Once you have planted an asparagus culture, you can harvest here continuously for up to 15 or even 20 years. Afterwards, however, a new bed absolutely belongs in a new location in order to avoid the so-called re-cultivation disease.

Green asparagus

The following three varieties are particularly suitable for growing as green asparagus, although the ‘Mondeo’ variety, which is classified under pale asparagus, can also be grown green.

  • Snow White : This well-known, fast-growing variety reliably delivers a fairly high yield with comparatively thick, very tasty sticks. ‘Snow White’ is harvested between the end of May and the end of June.
  • Primaverde : This is a very new hybrid breed that, like ‘Snow White’, does not contain any anthocyanins and thus turns a delicate green instead of purple-green like many other green asparagus varieties. The smooth, quite thin stalks are harvested between April and June.
  • Ariane : This old, tried and tested variety of green asparagus has been in cultivation since the beginning of the 17th century and can also be harvested white. Harvest time is between May and June.

Purple or purple asparagus

Purple asparagus, also known as purple asparagus, is still very rarely offered in this country. The color occurs as soon as the white pole tips emerge from the mound and develop anthocyanin from the sunlight. This substance causes the purple tint, which, however, disappears when cooked. Therefore, purple asparagus should not be boiled, only fried.

  • Burgundine : The strong purple colored stalks of this variety can be harvested between April and June. It is a relatively new hybrid variety that offers high yields.
  • Pacific Purple : ‘Pacific Purple’ produces thick, purple asparagus spears of a particularly dark color, which are harvested between April and June. The taste is delicate and rather sweet.

White or pale asparagus

Depending on the variety, white asparagus can also be grown as green or purple asparagus. However, the differences between the asparagus varieties listed here in terms of properties and use are not too great, and these have also proven themselves particularly in home and hobby gardens. Some of the newer breeds, on the other hand, are still on “probation” and should therefore only be tried out by courageous, experienced gardeners with a correspondingly large amount of space in the garden – otherwise the disappointment after so much work and waiting time could be great.

  • Huchel’s performance selection : This asparagus impresses with its intense taste, and the variety is also considered to be high-yielding.
  • Huchels Alpha : This is also an old, proven variety from the famous asparagus grower August Huchel from the 1960s with a very good taste and high yields.
  • Huchels Hochzucht : August Huchel was one of the most important asparagus growers in Germany and brought some very important varieties onto the market, some of which are still among the most popular varieties for home and hobby gardeners today. ‘Huchels Hochzucht’ delivers medium-thick sticks with a good taste that can be harvested between the end of May and the end of June.
  • Gijnlim : This is a hybrid variety from the Netherlands with excellent growth characteristics. ‘Gijnlim’ delivers very high yields, can be grown both white and green and is considered extremely robust. The variety is also suitable for early cultivation, for example under plastic tunnels.
  • Mondeo : This hybrid variety is also considered robust and very tasty, and ‘Mondeo’ like ‘Gijnlim’ can be grown both white and green.

If you want to grow white, green or purple asparagus yourself, you have to invest a lot of time in the project. In addition, good care and nutrient-rich, lime-free soil are required in order to be able to count on a good harvest. Depending on your own taste, you can then use asparagus in various colors. The type of cultivation is critical to the color of the poles.

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