Artichokes, also called Globe Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables. I just love them boiled with a little bit of aioli to dip the leaves into. The Globe artichoke plant is also a very attractive ornamental plant with lovely grey foliage. I like to integrate them into my perennial or mixed borders. They make great focal points with their unusual leaves and flowers.
Globe artichokes are an unusual vegetable: you eat the immature flower of a thistle! You can also eat the young flower stalks and leaves.
The globe artichoke comes from the mediterranean. The Greeks and Romans have already been cultivating artichokes there.
The most popular artichoke variety is Green Globe which makes a lovely big, green artichoke. Other popular varieties are 'Violetta' or 'Purple Roscoff', a purple artichoke with a more spiny, elongated red head.
Soil: You need a warm, light soil for artichoke growing. Being a Mediterranian plant they dislike heavy soils that are wet in the winter.
Artichoke plants can be grown in hardiness zone 7 or above. Enrich the soil with plenty of good compost. Adding a thick layer of mulch to protect them from frost helps with growing artichokes in colder climates.
Feeding: Cynara cardunculus is a heavy feeder during the summer. Add some fertilizer with plenty of nitrogen during the growing season.
You can grow artichokes from seed or take off side shoots from established plants. Plant them out in the spring about 3 feet apart.
You might harvest only a few heads at the en of the first season. The plants are perennial and should produce for three to four years.
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Growing Artichokes is usually trouble free. Lettuce root fly can sometimes be a problem and snails can also cause trouble.
Harvest the artichokes before the heads get too hard or start opening. Cut them off with a couple of inches of the stem and enjoy!