Green and white asparagus are the same plants grown differently, white asparagus is denied sunlight while developing, which prevents photosynthesis and hence leads to the albino appearance as well as a differing taste. The difference between purple asparagus and standard varieties however is more than skin deep.
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The first Purple Asparagus was developed by farmers in Italy and first sold commercially as "Violetto d'Albenga". Albenga being the region of Italy from whence it came.
Purple asparagus generally only grows 2-3 inches in height. The spears have a purple exterior but a mildly fibrous green interior and a crisp sweet taste.
The plant and foliage, other than being shorter does not differ much from green asparagus and doe's not bare the hallmark purple of the spears.
There are additional protective and preventative health benefits attributed to Purple Asparagus that aren't found in standard varieties. Substances known as anthocynanins are phytonutrients that not only give purple asparagus its magenta pigmentation but also enhance its dietary value.
Purple Asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw it is crisp and sweet, it has about 20% more sugar than green asparagus. It produces sweeter, thicker spears that have a hint of fruity flavor coupled with the vegetable taste it is quite unique. When cooked the flavor is a medley of fruit and vegetable all in one. When cooked it must be cooked quickly or steamed to retain the fruity attribute. Over cooking will lead to an asparagus not much different than standard green varieties. Steaming or Blanching are best.
Growing Purple Asparagus is no different than growing green asparagus.
Seeds can be started indoors in late winter or early spring for transplanting outdoors after the last frost.
Bare root stock can be planted as soon as the ground is workable in spring.
Pre- Rooted plants can be planted at season end in the fall 4-6 weeks before the first fall frost, they will over winter and grow again after the winter dormancy.
Germination 28 - 35 Days
Slightly Less than 2 Years to Maturity ~ Under good conditions it has a productive life expectancy of approximately 15 years.
Self pollinating. However, you may want to plant pollinating partners to increase crop size. You'll still get Asparagus with just one plant
USDA Hardiness Zones 3 - 9
Plant Height - 3 to 5 Ft
Spread - 16 - 20 Inches
Soil ph: 6.0 -8.0
Yield - Average
If perennial weeds or grasses infest an asparagus bed it is extremely difficult to reclaim it. So keep the asparagus bed well-mulched , using shredded leaves or straw. Weed frequently and carefully, asparagus roots near the surface are easily damaged. Domesticated Asparagus does not compete well with weeds or even other domestic garden plants, do not inter-plant with other crops.