Artichoke (Globe)

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Cynara scolymus

Quick Reference

Optimum Soil Temperature 17-21°
Days to Germination 10-12 days
Days to Harvest Second season from transplant
Direct Sow or Transplant Transplant
Distance Apart 100cm
Soil pH 6.5-7.5
Annual/Biennial /Perennial  Perennial

History

Giant thistle like plants.

Originating in the Mediterranean.

Also known as French Artichoke, or green Artichoke.

Completely different plant to Jerusalem Artichoke which is a member of the sunflower family Helianthus.

And excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium.

Growing

Perennial.  Plants can last up to five years.  Matures second season from transplant although some varieties may fruit earlier.

Optimal soil temperature for germination is 17 to 21 degrees.

10-12 days to germination.

Large plant – space out about 100cm.  Plants can grow up to 1.8m in height, so be prepared to give them some room.

Plants enjoy full sun and free draining soil.  Does not like windy conditions, so plant in a sheltered spot.

Harvest tight heads before the scales open out when fruit is plump and soft.  (Around 8cm across).  Start from the top of the plant to get continual harvests.

in early winter cut back and mulch to protect from frosts.

Cooking:  If you need to cut the artichoke in half and scoop out – wash well. Place in a pot of boiling water with a squeeze of lemon (to stop discolouration)

Boil for 30 minutes.  Leaves will pull away easily when cooked.  Drain and serve.  Dip each leaf in melted butter or herb sauce.

Storing harvested Artichokes:  Artichokes are best used fresh however can be stored whole in the refrigerator for up to a week if sprinkled with a little water and placed in a perforated plastic bag.

If freezing blanch first as the fruit will quickly loose its colour and flavour.

Seed Saving:  Plants can be propagated in spring from seed or suckers from a parent plant in autumn.

Maintenance

Keep watered and weed free.  Mulch in spring

Fun Facts

Castroville, California, USA is the Artichoke Capital of the World.  Since 1949 they have held an Artichoke Festival annually.

Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jean) was crowned the first California Artichoke Queen in 1949.

Claimed to be an aphrodisiac.

The artichoke ‘fruit’ is actually the flower.

The Greek god Zeus was said to have turned a scorned lover into an artichoke.

Ciro Terranova “Whitey” (1889-1938), aka the “Artichoke King”, was a member of the mafia. He purchased all the artichokes shipped to New York from California.  He created a produce company and resold the artichokes at a 40% profit. Eventually, the mayor of New York declared a ban on everything artichokes! This ban lasted one week before being lifted.

Problems

Not enough water over hot summer months will cause the artichokes to be small.

Too much water over winter will cause the plants to rot.

Pests

Slugs and snails will attack new shoots.

Aphids can be a problem