Just plant the whole pot into the garden!
Don't let the long growth time of this perennial vegetable discourage you; Sweet Purple Asparagus will produce heavily and dependably for up to 15 seasons! This is a vegetable for your permanent garden, asking only well-drained fertile soil receiving sunshine and water. Begin this gourmet (and exceptionally healthful) crop today, and enjoy the results for more than a decade to come!
Purple asparagus has actually been around a long, long time; records exist of it being grown in France more than 150 years ago, and it was not new then. But it has only recently arrived on American tables, and we are proud to make the seed available to Park gardeners this season. Its benefits go well beyond its striking color and beauty!
Sweet Purple spears are about 6 to 9 inches long, much larger than traditional green types and also thicker. Best of all, they are stringless and tender, with less fiber than their green cousins, so they can be eaten from tip to base -- no need to snap off the tough end! Boasting 20% more sugar than green asparagus, they are mild, nutty, and sweet.
But concealed within each yummy bite is a good serving of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight cancer. This asparagus is a superfood, absolutely central to a nutritious disease-prevention diet.
Sweet Purple loses much of its beautiful deep burgundy-violet coloration when cooked, but you can minimize this by sprinkling the spears with lemon juice just before cooking, or by lightly steaming. Because this variety is less fibrous, it cooks more quickly than green varieties.
Sweet Purple is a large plant with fern-like foliage reaching 4 to 5 feet high and 12 to 30 inches wide. Let the foliage die down naturally; it feeds the plant as it matures, so you don't want to cut it back until it falls over. That's about all there is to maintaining this vigorous perennial!
Start the seeds indoors in your Bio Dome or in peat pots or other individual containers. The seed germinates well but slowly; sow it 12 to 14 weeks before last scheduled spring frost in your area, and expect 3 weeks to pass before you see the shoots. When it's time to transplant the seedlings, let them harden off in a shaded, protected garden spot for at least 5 days before being set out in the soil.
Enrich the planting site with a balanced fertilizer, and make sure the drainage is good. Raised beds work well for this perennial, but traditional rows are also fine. Bear in mind that this is a tall plant that will shade neighboring plants during the growing season. During the first two years, as the plants reach maturity, make sure they never dry out completely. Cut back the dead foliage in late autumn and keep the bed weeded to prevent insects from sheltering near the plants.
Once your purple asparagus bed is established, you will wonder how you ever got by without fresh, delicious, healthy stalks straight from the garden to your plate! Enjoy. Zones 3-9.