|by Liz West|
1 At its most vigorous, and in optimum conditions, spears can grow up to 25cm in 24
2 It's high in folic acid (thought beneficial for the growing foetus), has potassium,
thiamin, and vitamins A, B6 and C, and contains about 20 calories per 100g.
3 It is considered to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, too.
4 The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board tells us that the larger the diameter, the
better the quality and tenderness. This is contrary to 'popular opinion'.
5 The Roman emperor Augustus was especially fond of asparagus, and kept ships
especially for sailing to fetch it for his own consumption.
6 It's a member of the lily family.
7 Planting is with 'crowns' which are best placed about 30cm deep in sandy soil.
Sometimes a little salt may be added to the soil. Usually the crop is not harvested
in the first three years, to allow a solid root system to develop.
8 If left to flower and fruit, the plant's red berries are poisonous to humans.
9 French king Louis XIV was so keen on asparagus that he had greenhouses made
especially to grow it.
10 Perhaps most interestingly, from about 15 minutes after you've eaten asparagus,
your urine is likely to smell of it. May be due to a combination of sulphur and
hydrogen. It seems, though, that only about one person in four has the 'nose' to
pick that up!