Our asparagus bed is a few years old and for several springs has produced enough for several meals.
However, it’s also produced a puzzle: why, when all the crowns were planted at the same time, and receive the same amount of fertilizer and water, do some produce skinny spears and some produce fat ones?
I found the answer at Julie Biuso’s Shared Kitchen:
The asparagus plant is an interesting creature, a perennial, and a member of the lily family. It consists of a crown, which sends up shoots each spring. At the end of spring spears are left to grow into ferns, which then undergo photosynthesis. The root system is recharged with carbohydrates and these are stored in fat storage roots. In autumn the plants die off, and they remain dormant in winter, waiting for the ideal conditions of cool nights and mild daytime temperatures to start the process again. There are male and female plants (true!). The male plants produce more spears and live longer, but the female plants, wouldn’t you know it, produce the fattest juiciest spears. . .
Wouldn’t you know it, even in the garden females are fatter.