Also known as a ‘Winged Bean’, this legume plant is a great edible to try. The name implies it may have a vaguely asparagus flavour, but has also been described as tasting nutty. Its prostrate growth habit makes it an excellent ground cover in the garden and can act like a living mulch that can give you a harvest. Asparagus Pea only grows 15cm tall but can spread to about 60cm wide. It will smother any weeds in its way and as a legume it can fix nitrogen from the soil. However, it can become a weed itself so don’t let the seed pods mature.
As it is a frost tender annual, start Asparagus Pea indoors and/or sow seeds outdoors once the risk of frost has passed. It is a quick growing plant, and the pods will be ready to harvest within 3 months but need a hot summer. A lover of full sun, Asparagus Pea also doesn’t need the soil to be too rich or too moist.
The beautiful red pea like flowers, which come in pairs and are edible, make a lovely garnish. The leaves can also be eaten as you would spinach. But it is the pods, with their ruffle on three sides, that are the highlight of the plant and are best enjoyed smaller than 3cm while they are tender, or they become fibrous and too tough to eat. They can be quite prolific and will need picking often. Asparagus peas can be fried, boiled, steamed, or pickled and will look amazing on the plate.