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If established early and transplanted well, asparagus can produce a harvestable crop of spears in year two. asparagus is a dioecious plant, meaning plants are either male or female. The plants are indistinguishable until after the bees have had their fill and the fruit develops; the plants with the red berries in late summer are the females. It is best to replace female plants so self-seeding asparagus does not come up interrupting yields with the asparagus bed. Additionally, female plants are not as prolific of a producer of spears as male plants, perhaps because they are saving precious energy for their seed production later in summer.

Some great information on starting a cheap large bed from seed is found here

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