Planting Artichokes for Every Climate

Doreen G. Howard shares information on planting artichokes for every climate, includes how to chill artichoke seeds, annual and perennial artichokes and selecting a planting site.


| December 2001/January 2002



What you need to know about planting artichokes for every climate. Imagine an abundance of artichokes from your own garden.

What you need to know about planting artichokes for every climate. Imagine an abundance of artichokes from your own garden.


PHOTO: RICK WETHERBEE

Tips on planting artichokes for every climate.

Artichokes are an adventure for the palate, eyes and soul. Exotic additions to flower borders and vegetable gardens, their sheer size demands attention. The prettiest of pollinators flock to them. And steamed artichoke buds create convivial dinner parties, forcing all to slow down, taste, savor and converse. Until a few years ago, only gardeners along the Pacific Coast and in mild Mediterranean climates could grow artichokes. This gourmet, perennial vegetable did not tolerate temperatures below 20 degrees, grew best in foggy areas with cool days and nights, and demanded a long growing season.

But these rigid requirements changed when a new variety, "Imperial Star," became available in the late 1990s. An annual artichoke that is started from seed in early spring, it produces edible buds about 90 days after transplants are set out, much like tomatoes and peppers. Now, planting artichokes for every climate is possible: anyone, anywhere, can have an artichoke patch for fresh eating or even canning.

Buttery, with a nutty flavor, artichoke hearts have long been regarded as elegant additions to salads, as topping for sauteed fish and as toothsome appetizers when dressed with vinegar, olive oil and herbs. The whole artichoke bud is best steamed and served with a dipping sauce of garlic-flavored, melted butter or mayonnaise. To eat it, grasp the pointed end of each petal of the bud and pull it off. Then dip the petal bottom in the sauce and rake it over your teeth to dislodge the meaty pulp at the base.

When most of the large petals have been consumed, cut away all remaining ones, and scoop out the hairy materials in the bud base to reveal the meaty artichoke heart. It can be cut into pieces and dipped into the remaining sauce. Eating an artichoke is almost a social event: time-consuming, but well worth the effort.

Plant Artichoke Seeds and Chill

Until "Imperial Star" was developed, artichokes grown from seed usually did not produce buds in their first year, and if they did, the buds were small and of poor quality. For this reason artichokes were usually sold as root divisions or offsets. But annual "Imperial Star" produces big crops immediately from seed and doesn't require as much chilling or vernalization as perennial varieties, such as "Green Globe" and "Violetto."

christina crawford
6/12/2012 4:47:41 AM

My Artichokes seems to drawn flies.... by the masses. Is this dues to aphids? How can I cure it? Thanks for all help. Christina






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