Thanks Phil, I'll ask a couple more questions and answer a couple you asked. If I recall this correctly from when I planted them, the literature indicated that the Purple Passion were supposed to be planted much closer than the others. So they're kinda close to one another, and I just assumed that the underground roots would kinda tend to intertwine over time, and that's where my comment of maybe damaging others came from.
The bags of Humus (which I wanna say has a lot of composted cow manure in there?) I get from Menard's and that stuff just looks like really black soil. I've been putting that on, then I'd rake up some oak leaves to cover the row with several inches of that. Then I'd maybe hit it with the hose to get the leaves wet before it would freeze overnight so as to kind of hold them in place so they wouldn't get wind blown. Then of course the snows would come and I would be all smug, relatively happy with myself assuming I was doing right by my Asparagus patch, keeping them all cozy against the harsh winter weather. Then come late March or early April whenever the really cold temps are gone, I'd go rake the leaves off the row and sprinkle some 10-10-10 on there and sit back and see when the first spears would appear. So that's the extent of the mulching I do. Once I get the leaves off the row it's me against the weeds on a go-forward basis! But if that's a no-no, I can for sure cease and desist doing that.
I have not been snapping the spears, rather I scrape around the spear with my finger to get it just below the surface, then I make a little nick with the knife, to give it a breaking point (kinda like I do with a Banana. If I don't score it just a teensy, I'll often mash it all up...) but I'm super careful to keep the knife away from all other spears, then I can brush some dirt back over the spear that I just harvested.
I've not been hit with a lot of beetle problems, and am not sure why. I had read the differing positions of leaving the ferns all through the winter -vs- cutting them and getting rid of them. I chose the latter, as I'd read that the dead ferns are just like a motel 6 for the li'l beetles, and I didn't want to offer them up any hospitality - at all! Are you okay with that approach?
On these couple that I have now that are sending up skinny shoots, you think I'm okay to cut 'em down now, and see how they do next year, or would you think I ought to get 'em out of there now and put in a new crown?