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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.