So today I'm reporting on the UK's first autumn asparagus crop being harvested from now right through to November. This is well outside the traditional season which stretches from St George's Day through to midsummer's day.
In my report this is how I explain how the farmer has managed to do this;
It's a variety from the south of france, and by using polytunnels to control temperature and the water supply you can trick it into producing plump juicy spears from now until November.
Well dear blog reader as ever with science it is a little bit more complicated than that. This particular variety will happily produce spears of asparagus all year round. But here in England the climate would lead to lots of feeble little spears and quickly exhaust the plant.
Putting the plant in a polytunnel allows the farmer to do two things. Keep the plant warmer (although without actually needing heaters to warm things up) and also control the water supply. And it's this that allows you to trick the plant and make it dormant earlier in the year and then waking it up to start producing spears around now.
There are plenty of other clever details which the farmer and supermarket who've created this autumn asparagus wouldn't reveal. And to give you some idea it's taken seven years and hundreds of thousands of pounds to get this far. Even if the competion worked out exactly how to do it it would still take them 18 months to catch up. Clever innovation like this is a tribute to Midlands' ingenuity.
Meanwhile here's some other of my favourite facts about asparagus. It really does grow one centimetre an hour. In fact we are planning to get a time lapse camera to film some very soon. Others have already tried it.
And the reason it makes your urine smell funny? Methyl Mercaptan. Although interestingly there's a genetic component to all this, only some people have the genes to make the smell and only some people have the genes to actually smell the result. Not always the same person.