Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Grow Artichokes

Whomever discovered that the artichoke is edible once you break through to the heart is an absolute genius. In my book anyway. Artichokes can be used in dips, boiled, sauteed, stuffed or steamed. You can also consume artichokes in the most simplest fashion and that is following the receipe, How to Cook and Eat Artichoke, which shows how to prepare your home grown artichokes for consumption in the simplest fashion.

But, before we can talk about consuming artichokes, we need to get you growing artichokes. Artichokes thrive best in warm weather, but that does not mean it won’t do well in cooler climates. In warmer climates, artichokes will grow as a perennial. Artichokes can be a perennial in cooler climates as well with some additional work. I will get to more on that in a moment.

Starting artichokes from seeds is very easy. Whether you are in a warmer climate or cooler climate, start your seeds indoors 10 weeks out from when you plan on putting them in the ground. If you are planning on growing your artichokes as a perennial (not removing the plant every year), you will need to choose a permanent location. I will get more more on location in a second. For those in cooler climates, you want to start them a minimum of 10 weeks out from your final frost.

Sow your artichoke seeds to a depth of no more than a quarter of an inch, in soil where the pH level is 6.5 to 8.0. So slightly acidic to even a bit alkaline. You can expect your artichoke seeds to germinate in ten to fourteen days.

Once your artichokes have grown indoors for 10 weeks and you are ready to move them to outdoors, choose a location that receives eight or more hours of sunlight. When transplanting your artichokes you will want to space them out at least twenty-four inches. Artichoke plants will get pretty big.

Once your artichokes are transplanted, be sure to give them a weekly heavy watering and feed them constantly with a good organic fertilizer such as compost or manure tea or fish emulsion. Artichokes require a heavy dose of the big three nutrients, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, so be sure to feed your artichokes weekly.

Your artichokes are ready to harvest when the buds are tight, firm and an even green color. If you notice your artichokes are starting to open, you will want to harvest right away as they will begin to lose some of their flavor.

If you plan to grow artichokes as an annual, they will grow better if you do not follow sunflowers or Jerusalem artichokes.

Now back to growing your artichokes as a perennial. If you live in a warmer region, zones 8a and higher, simply cut the artichoke back to ground level and lightly cover with some compost or organic mulch. In cooler zones, cut your artichoke plant back to twelve inches above the soil and mound some mulch such as straw around the artichoke base, then cover your artichoke plants with bushel baskets. You will want to place some more straw around the baskets.

Additional Resources on How to Grow Artichokes
Artichokes: From Seed to Harvest

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