The Q&A Archives: Artichoke Growing

Question: I love Artichokes. When and how is the best way to start growing Artichokes?

Answer: Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are a perennial plant related to the thistle. Unfortunately, you may have a problem growing artichokes because, unlike their thistle cousins, artichokes are not very cold hardy. They also need a long growing season, from 9 to 12 months, to form flower buds (these are the artichokes) to pick. This is why they are grown in places like California and rarely seen in cold winter areas.

In case you decide to give it a try, artichokes are generally started from transplants in May, set about six feet apart. (Be careful to protect the transplants from cold snaps -- they are very susceptible to it as young plants.) They grow very large, up to four or five feet tall and quite wide, and do best in full sun in a very rich, loose soil well amended with organic matter. Water deeply and mulch well to help ensure adequate soil moisture during the summer. In fall, after frost, cut the plants to the ground and keep well mulched over winter. The following year, if they survive the winter which they might if it is a mild one, you should harvest the buds while still green and unopened.

Good luck with your artichokes!

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