Gardening > Grow Your Own... Artichokes

Globe Artichoke © OneDayOneImage Dreamstime

A vegetable often associated with haute cuisine, the globe artichoke has now lost much of its popularity. It is a difficult vegetable to cook properly and is fiddly and fairly unrewarding to eat. In the garden, where it makes an attractive display whether or not it is valued as a vegetable, it requires a rich, light soil and a attentive watering and feeding.


Choose a sunny, very well-drained site with light soil.


Use either seed or rooted suckers from good existing plants. Suckers can be bought from garden centres or rooted from artichoke plants in the garden.


Dig the soil during the autumn before planting/sowing and incorporate plenty of organic material. Add lime if necessary. A ph of 6.5 is best for globe artichokes.


Sow globe artichoke seeds between mid-March and the end of April. Sow the seeds sparingly at a depth of 1 inch in rows. Leave at least 1 foot between each row.


Plant rooted suckers during April 2 inches deep and 3 feet apart. Put the suckers, which should be about 9 inches tall, into prepared holes. Water well and then firm the soil around each sucker.


While the plants are establishing water them regularly. Apply a mulch in early summer. Hoe carefully around the plants to keep the weeds under control and continue to water if the summer is dry.


Do not allow artichokes that appear in the first year to mature. Cut them off when small.


Begin harvesting in July in the year after planting/sowing. Crop regularly until late September. Cut the artichoke heads when they are still tightly closed. At this stage they are still tender to eat. Use the terminal bud (the highest bud on the plant) first followed by the lateral buds (the one on the side below the terminal bud).


To grow extra large artichokes remove the side shoots from the plant. This will increase the size of each artichoke but the overall crop will be smaller.


When harvesting stops cut the plants down and cover the crowns with straw.


Problems with Artichokes:


Petal Blight

Symptoms: Brown spots spread over the asparagus heads.
Prevention: None
Action: Remove and burn affected heads.



Aphids:

Symptoms: Flower heads are covered in black and green fly and ants.
Prevention: Keep plants well-watered and healthy.
Action: Brush them off as they appear or use an organic spray.