If you want to start an asparagus bed, now is the time to start building up the soil. Dig in loads of well-rotted manure, seaweed or blood and bone, compost and pea straw. Let it break down until planting time in spring. Lay down mulch as well to suppress weeds. You can buy dormant two-year-old asparagus crowns during winter, but the best time for planting in the garden is when the soil temperature reaches 12°C – around early spring. Instead, bed these crowns into a tray of potting mix to save risking them rotting in the wet, cold winter soil and plant once conditions are more suitable. Crowns are fairly expensive but they will save you several years of waiting until you can harvest, which is their advantage over seed-sown plants. However, if you’re patient and have the time, asparagus grown from seed can provide many more plants for a fraction of the cost. Asparagus is slow to establish, but once it has, a well-nourished bed will keep you in tender spring spears for at least 20 years.