Answer: USDA Zone 3a is a challenging site for artichokes! There's a market gardener here in Burlington, VT (USDA Zone 4b) who specializes in growing globe artichokes. His frost-free growing season is about 120 days, and he harvests a large crop! He starts plants from seed inside a greenhouse and transplants them after danger of frost has passed.<br><br>Burpee offers a 'Imperial Star' artichoke which matures in 95 days after transplant. You may be able to grow them in a hoop-house placed over the garden bed. If you care to put that much in to experimentation, first place IRT (Infrared Transmitting) Mulch on the garden beds. It'll warm the soil earlier in the spring, (so long as the sun shines!). Then you can use some kind of row cover fabric to build the hoop house to keep the air around the plants warm. Water doesn't penetrate the mulch, so you'll need to provide water with a hose, or with irrigation line under the mulch. Your extension service (ph# 612/241-2720) may be able to tell you if there's anyone in the area who's been successful growing artichokes, and maybe you can get some suggestions from them.
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