ASPARAGUS - a gardener's notebook
Asparagus grows wild in Kent - most notably on the golf course at Sandwich! It is a native plant of sand dunes. For this reason gardeners used to be encouraged to dress asparagus beds with salt. It has been found that this isn't necessary - though it does keep the weeds down!
You can buy asparagus as bare-root "crowns" or as pot-grown plants. It is also quite easy to grow them from seed, and quicker than you might think. You will get more choice of variety growing from seed. Pot-grown plants are very expensive. Some people get good results from crowns, but they can be iffy. If the spring is wet and your soil claggy, the crowns may rot instead of growing.
Why do you want "male"plants? because female plants have berries. Producing berries takes some of the energy of the plant which would otherwise go into making growth you can eat.
All the books will say "an asparagus bed will crop for 20 years or so, so don't skimp when preparing the bed." Never a truer word was written. You will reap the benefits of your hard work for nearly 20 years, so don't be a cheapskate. Asparagus likes well-drained soil, but if you prepare a raised bed you'll get good results even on heavy clay.
The other thing the books say is "don't let your asparagus bed get overgrown with weeds". Asparagus is a greedy plant and if it has to compete with weeds for food and water you won't get the kind of crop you ought to. If you're thinking "It's too late, my bed is full of couch grass", don't despair. You can spray or water the bed with a glyphosate weedkiller like Roundup AS LONG AS YOU DO IT IN WINTER OR EARLY SPRING WHEN THE NEW SHOOTS OF THE ASPARAGUS ARE STILL UNDERGROUND. The weeds will be killed and the asparagus will come up later unharmed.
You can crop asparagus for about 10 weeks. When it starts will depend how warm the spring is; anything from the end of March to late April. So there's no point in giving you a set end date, just count 10 weeks. When that time is up, STOP CUTTING and leave the tall fern to develop to feed the roots for next year. Don't cut the fern down till it turns yellow in autumn. The fern gets mucgh taller than you'd think and, in winter areas, may need some framework of support to stop the stems blowing over and breaking off at ground level.