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April 15, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Growing Asparagus Pea

Asparagus Pea (Lotus tetragobolonus) is an unusual vegetable which has a unique flavour, a bit like a cross between tender asparagus and fresh young peas.

It is an extremely old vegetable (dating back to the 1590’s or earlier) that is now seeing a resurgence in popularity – and deservedly so. This is a real gourmet delight, having a flavour that can be best described as a cross between the freshest of garden peas and asparagus.

These small, shrubby plants produce pretty, sweet-pea-like maroon flowers which are followed by the small seed pods that we harvest.

Sowing
  • Sow seeds under glass in pots in early spring or outdoors in late spring. 
  • Under glass sow seeds individually in 7.5cm (3in) pots in a good seed compost. 
  • Germination usually 7-14 days at 19-21C (65-70F). 
  • Harden off and plant out 30cm (12in) apart when all risk of frost is gone. 
  • Sow outdoors 10cm (4in) apart in well raked soil in rows 30cm (12in) apart. 

Care
  • The plant will be ready to crop in 50 Days from planting out, growing to a height of 12 inches (30 cm).
  • Small winged pods should be harvested when about 3-4cm long, superb flavour akin to Asparagus. 
  • Will crop all summer long if picked regularly. 

Harvest
  • Pick pods regularly while young and tender. 
  • Don’t allow pods to get more than 3cm (1 in) long.
  • Many believe it better and easier to pick in the evening.
  • As a member of the legume family, the roots of the plant will fix extra nitrogen into the soil, making it ideal for brassicas the following year. 

Cooking
  • These pods have the flavour and consistency of asparagus when cooked in butter with a little salt – delicious as a starter!
  • Asparagus Pea goes with virtually any dish, when you can cook the pods whole at 3cm (1in) long, preferably by steaming, and serve with a little melted butter. No flavouring should be used as this will destroy its own delicious taste.

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