When designing a sustainable, edible landscape, asparagus must be in the picture. The only downside to growing your own asparagus is that you will no longer be able to purchase those bundled spears out of season and nothing will compare with your own. You WILL become an asparagus snob!
There are two ways to get asparagus into your garden, by planting crowns or seeds. I have started asparagus both ways and I prefer planting from seed because the selection is vast and for me, that is worth the wait, which could be at least a year longer. I also think that the difference lessens when you think of the damage to the crowns from transplanting. Since I knew that I wanted to grow an heirloom variety I grew Precoce D’Argenteuil Asparagus from seed purchased in Italy and we harvested our first stalks this spring. The harvest lasted about 6 weeks and we are very happy with that for the first year.
Asparagus beds produce for 20 or more years so be sure to put them where they will stay and make certain to give them all the manure you can to get them off to a good start. Starting from seed means it may take an additional year to get your first big harvest but I have found that the care you take in planting makes all the difference. To start plants, sow seeds in a small furrow; place seeds 1 inch deep and space rows 12 inches. Thin to 5 inches.
I use the Lasagna Gardening method for all of our gardens to cut back on tillage and you can see from these pictures the method for transplanting the asparagus with the future in mind. Once I get these plants in the ground I really don’t want to have to weed again so we cover the ground around the transplant with several layers of soaked newspaper, cardboard and then straw. Each year I will add more of all the elements to the beds to keep the weeds at bay and keep the earthworms happy.