How to Grow Artichokescomments (33) April 25th, 2009
Water well for tender chokes and strong plants
The artichoke part we relish is the immature flower head of the plant, which is a member of the thistle family. There are varieties of artichokes available to suit just about every situation. For a reliable grower in cold climates, try ‘Green Globe’. This variety produces heavily and matures early enough to be grown in most areas as an annual. ‘Violetto’, an Italian variety, produces beautiful purple heads with a slightly elongated bud. It matures a bit later, however, and I have found it unsuitable as an annual. ‘Imperial Star’ was developed to be grown as an annual. Its tasty buds are round, and they mature about one week earlier than those of ‘Green Globe’.
|A basket full of artichokes may look like an impenetrable harvest, but cooks seeking a delicious meal see a feast. Click here for artichoke recipes from FineCooking.com.|
Regardless of the variety you plant, you will want to harvest a tender crop. Many factors can affect the texture of the bud we eat, but the most important for bud tenderness is water. Artichokes need plenty of water to produce those big, succulent buds. You may need to water up to three times a week during a hot, dry spell, especially if it occurs while the buds are forming. Like too little water, an unexpected late frost can also toughen or destroy developing buds.
Water also benefits the artichoke plant’s deep roots, which are fleshy and become quite thick. They need to be kept moist, especially during the dry months. I mulch well to conserve moisture. Make sure, however, that all that water is going onto an artichoke garden patch that drains well. Poor drainage can cause the crown of the plant, where the stems sprout, to rot. In my area, it’s not the cold winter that kills the plant. Sometimes it’s the soggy soil.
|Harvest artichokes with a cut across the stem when the buds have swelled but are still firm and closed tight.||If you leave some artichoke buds on the stem, they'll flower into stunning purple thistle-like blooms.|
The buds develop at the tips of 1-inch-thick stalks. The terminal bud is normally the largest and the first to mature. It should be harvested with a slice through the stem just below the bud, which should be large, firm, and tightly closed. If a few buds escape your knife, they will open into spectacular, purple-blue, 6-inch thistlelike flowers. Allowing the buds to flower, however, may reduce the plant’s vigor for the following year’s crop in perennial plantings. And you wouldn’t want that to happen with such a delicious crop.
by Kris Wetherbee
from issue #27
posted in: artichokes