Such a rewarding vegetable for little effort.

Asparagus crowns are traditionally planted in permanent beds in double rows 50cm apart. Rows 1m apart and crowns 50cm apart, into well drained soil. 10 to 12 plants would be a good start for a family of 4. Dig a trench and place well rotted manure or compost. Back fill with soil, form a mound and straddle crown on top. Cover with loose so

il or compost to 75-100mm and then mulch with straw or compost with another 75mm. If your soil is heavy I recommend raising your beds.

Do not harvest spears in the 1st spring, allow spears to grow, they may reach 2m in good soils, so place a stake in the corners of your bed and run a strong string line around to support spears from falling onto close by beds. In late autumn the spears will die off and go brown they can then be cut back to the ground, do not cut when green as they provide food to the crown for the following seasons crop.
Each year in late winter replenish your bed with rotted manure or compost and mulch with straw or seaweed.

In the 2nd spring(from 2-3yr old planted crowns) you can start harvesting spears, my rule is not to harvest any spears smaller than my little finger (1.5cm) always leave 2 to fully grow, for feeding the crown for the next seasons crop.

Male plants versus female plants. Most asparagus crowns are grown from seed, and do not start producing seed till 3yrs or older. Female plants often have many smaller spears around the centre of the crown and male plants generally have fewer but bigger spears. If grown well my experience is that well grown plants produce similar sized spears. You can cull out crowns that don't perform well and divide ones that impress and replant.
I am growing a variety called 'Purple Passion' I allow my females to grow as they produce seed, of which I have crowns now for sale. Deliciously sweet variety, rarely makes it to the pot as I eat them raw.
I also have an selected variety of 'Mary Washinton' crowns, of good sized 2- 3 yr old, mostly male crowns.

Lindy Campbell 2013