The Q&A Archives: Artichokes Are Ready To Harvest?

Question: I have been growing 2 artichoke plants in pots for the last 2 years and one has finally emerged with 3 artichokes, they look great but I am not sure when it is ready to be harvested and what is the best technique for harvesting?

Answer: Artichokes are the unopened flower buds from a plant which is a member of the thistle family. If the buds were allowed to open, they would have a purple center, just like the thistle weeds that grow along roadsides. Artichoke plants are perennial plants in warm winter regions, or annual plants in colder areas. They grow best in full sunshine and regular water. As the foliage matures, flowering stems are produced from the crown of the plant. Atop each stem will be one (or more) flower buds. As these buds grow and mature, but before the petals expand fully to expose the purple center, the artichokes are harvested, cooked and eaten. Artichokes should be harvested just as the bottom petals begin to spread, but while the rest of the bud is still fairly tight. You should be able to feel the artichoke 'give' a little when you squeeze it in your hand. This indicates the petals have begun to relax and separate. Hope this answers your question!

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