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How To Grow Artichokes

Considered a delicacy globe artichokes are easy to grow and as a perennial once planted will give a number of years worth of cropping. Simply plant rooted suckers in the spring then remove the flower heads as they form in the first year then allow them to form more fully in the second year and pick them off just before the fleshy scales open in June. New growth will then appear in August. The thick tough old stems can then be cut back and composted. Most growth happens in winter and spring when dry soil is not a problem so maintenance is relatively low. That said they do appreciate a thick annual mulching and some protection from harsher winter conditions.

Globe artichokes can be grown in places which do not support strong growth later in the year. Despite being perennials the plants will not last forever and an annual replanting of the crop is good practice to ensure a continuous supply.

Frequently planted in both ornamental borders and vegetable plots Globe artichokes will grow to 1.5m x 1m (5ft x 3.25ft), make big clumps of thistle-like silvery leaves. They make good architectural plants as well as having those edible flowers. Ideally for cropping they are planted 60cm (2ft) apart with 75cm (2.5ft) between rows. On average one plant will produce 12 edible heads.

    Planting and Growing
  • As perennials, these plants will be on the ground for at least 3 years so soil preparation is critical. Ensure you dig in lots of well-rotted manure before planting and aid drainage in clay soil by adding course grit. If you are planning on growing them in ornamental borders remember they are tall so plant at the back.
  • Cut back stems in autumn and protect the crown over winter with a thick mulch of bark chippings, straw or other mulch.
  • In the spring add a top-dressing of Vegetable Fertiliser.

To ensure the plant establishes itself and crops well for a number of years remove all the young flowers as they form. This ensures the plant puts all its efforts into growing the roots and crown. In the second year, allow the edible flowers to develop for harvesting in June and July. Pick the top flower first, just before the scales have started to open then pick the lower buds as they reach the same stage.

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