Growing artichokes is a tasty alternative to buying them at your favorite grocery store. What could be better?
(In the picture above is the Purple Italian Globe)
You should always start with a freshly tilled and fertilized space in your garden. Artichokes need full sun, but if you live in a climate where it is very hot, over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, provide light shade for them. Yes, Texas, this means you.
If you live in the north where there is snow and ice, you will need to put new plants in every year. In the south, your plants should last for four or five seasons so this is a great investment for you!
Start by growing artichokes indoors, eight to twelve weeks prior to the last spring frost. In order to plant your seeds inside, you will need some seed starter flats to plant the seeds in. You will also need a heating mat and a growing light so the seeds germinate in your home. My husband starts seeds inside all through the year so we have plenty of heating mats and growing lights in use.
Once the seedlings have grown, they need to be exposed to cooler temperatures for at least a week before you plant them in the ground in order for them to grow chokes. Cool means around 50 degrees F. So put them outside, on your deck or patio and keep an eye on them. If the temperature goes much lower, bring them back inside. It is ideal to keep them out in the cool air for 10 days before planting them in your garden.
About two weeks after the last frost, once your plants have been exposed to the cool air for a week to 10 days, they are ready to go in the ground. Allow two to three feet between each artichoke plant to give them room to grow.
Water them well and don't forget to provide light shade if you are in miserably hot conditions.
Growing artichokes takes from 110 to 150 days from the time you first planted the seeds. The part you of the plant you eat are the flower buds, while they are still green, before they open. Cut the buds with two to three inches of stem on them.
Each green "scale" has a small piece of edible "fruit" for you to enjoy. Steam them and enjoy in pasta dishes and salads.
They will produce more buds for you to eat each season. At the end of the growing season, cut the plant to the ground and it will grow back in the spring, unless you live in a cold climate. There, you can dig it up, plant in a pot and put indoors through the winter or just plant new artichokes in the spring.
Imperial Star artichokes are a great variety to begin with. They are the easiest to grow.
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