A bumper crop of British-grown asparagus from a farm in New Forest run by Sandy Booth has started to arrive in Waitrose stores some eight weeks earlier than expected, giving customers a super healthy, super succulent treat during March.
Thanks to advanced growing techniques and the more temperature climate on the southern coast, the Gijnlim variety is already peaking.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer our customers home-grown British asparagus earlier than usual,” Lucy Broughton, Vegetable Buyer at Waitrose said. “For us, this marks the start of spring and we hope that customers will be excited by the fact that spring is finally on its way.”
Indeed the news is good for customers, who have shown an affinity for the versatile vegetable. The company notes that searches for asparagus have risen 667% in the past year as shoppers search for both availability and its application in a variety of dishes including Green baked eggs with new season asparagus, Asparagus, lemon & pecorino pasta, Classic pea & asparagus risotto with sage butter.
The early British asparagus became available last week in select supermarkets but will hit most Waitrose shelves by the middle to the end of March.
The arrival is courtesy of unique growing methods, including raised beds covered by fleece tunnels that boost the internal temperature of the plantings. In addition, growers are using a thin membrane to protect the asparagus from harsh sunlight and cooler temperatures at night.
“The substrate warms up quicker than soil hence the earlier production and a layer of sand over the soil gives two benefits – the first maintains soil temperature and secondly allows the spears to emerge easier and clean of any soil,” Waitrose said.