From late April to St. John's Day (24 June), the restaurants offer special treats based on the famous Schwetzingen asparagus.

Asparagus town

"Bis Johanni - nicht vergessen - sieben Wochen Spargel essen!" (Until St. John's day – don't forget – eat asparagus for seven weeks!) From late April to St. John's Day (24 June), restaurants offer special treats based on the famous Schwetzingen asparagus. The royal vegetable, first grown in the Schwetzingen castle garden in the middle of the 17th century, and once reserved for the Electoral table only, can now be got fresh from the field every day, on the asparagus market, in the backyards of the Schwetzingen old town or right from the farms.

History of asparagus farming

Asparagus tips

Let us first have a look at 17th century France: Like many other things, asparagus farming was kicked off by King Louis XIV. He had asparagus grown in Versailles to refine the royal table with this vegetable, which was deemed a special treat even in Antiquity. Elector Palatine Charles Louis wanted to keep up with this pleasure and had the "white gold" grown in his vegetable garden on the premises of the hunting castle in Schwetzingen from 1668 onwards. Prince Elector Charles Theodore, who had turned the castle into a magnificent summer residence, had asparagus cultivated from the mid-18th century until he moved to Munich in 1778.

Renaissance of Asparagus farming

Asparagus queen Janine

Only decades later, in 1820, did garden director Johann Michael Zeyher revive asparagus farming in the Schwetzingen castle garden. Asparagus had its second heyday in Schwetzingen ever since. Zeyher and his successors increasingly refined its quality. After the first asparagus cooperative in the world was founded, as early as 1853, large fields were planted starting in 1870. Exports commenced at the same time.

Preserved Asparagus

Max Bassermann founded a canned-food factory bearing his name in 1875. He specialised in the preservation of asparagus and thus guaranteed enjoyment of the royal vegetable year-round for many classes of society. The first asparagus market took place in 1894. The first Asparagus Rules were recorded in the same year.

New breeds and conquest in the early 20th century

Gustav A. Unselt, court gardener at the Schwetzingen castle garden, and his successor Franz Böhne, were able to breed the tasty varieties "Schwetzinger Meisterschuss" and "Lucullus" in 1899. After Elector Palatine Charles Louis in the 17th century, Prince-Elector Charles Theodore in the 18th century and Johann Michael Zeyher in the 19th century, Bassermann, Unselt and Böhne led Schwetzingen to world-wide renown in the early 20th century. It is reflected in the designations of "Hauptstadt des Spargels" (Capital City of Asparagus) and "Asparagus metropolis".

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