Asparagus Pea

Family: Fabaceae

Countries: Africa, Tanzania

The Asparagus Pea (also known by the botanical name Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) is a small, decorative plant with a naturally low growing habit.  When I first heard of the Asparagus Pea, I was so excited by the very idea of this plant.  I can remember reading the description over and over: ‘a vegetable with a delicious taste that was somewhere between asparagus and pea’.  I am a passionate lover of both peas and asparagus, so after reading this account I felt certain that the Asparagus Pea would taste simply divine and this would be my new favourite vegetable!  I simply couldn’t wait for spring and my earliest opportunity to grow this delectable sounding vegetable.

It’s now over 20 years since I first grew Asparagus Peas, yet I can still avidly recall just how repulsive these vegetables taste!  I can remember the bitter sense of disappointment I felt after wasting precious space in my garden on growing this ‘vegetable’ instead of devoting all of my garden to the growth of truly delicious vegetables, like a row of peas.  Many plants are edible, but there is a marked difference in growing a plant that is edible (not likely to kill you) and growing a vegetable with a truly delicious flavour.

If you want to grow something with a true gourmet flavour, I suggest you grow asparagus, peas, or other vegetables, with a naturally improved flavour.  The Asparagus Pea is not a productive vegetable, so even if you do enjoy the taste of these bitter and unpleasant tasting vegetables, you’d have to dedicate a large area to the production of Asparagus Peas to sustain a usable harvest.

An Asparagus pea, it looks interesting but tastes horrible.

Asparagus Peas are quite pretty plants.  These low-growing vegetables don’t take up much room and the plants don’t usually need any supports or special care.  In the UK, Asparagus Pea seeds can be sown from the start of April to the beginning of June (mid spring to early summer).  Sow in garden soil or peat-free compost, in a bright and sunny spot, in moist but well-drained soil.

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