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July 2010
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Artichokes: characteristics, growing and planting conditions and care that should be taken

Artichokes adds value and uniqueness to your garden. The artichoke is a member of the thistle family. Artichokes are considered a sensuous vegetable, and the vegetable of the gods. The Artichokes we eat are the immature flower bud of the artichoke plant. This tender, young bud is called the “Artichoke heart”. Artichoke hearts can be eaten raw or cooked. They are most often steamed. The heart, or center of the bud, is eaten along with small, tender outer leaves. The stem is also edible, and best cut an inch or so below the bud. Artichokes take up a lot of space and are not the easiest plants to grow.

Growing conditions for Artichokes

– They grow best in climates that have mild and mostly frost free winters, and damp cool summers.
– They need sunny spot.
– They need deeply tilled, rich, well-drained soils.
– The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.
– Well watering of plant is good.
– Keep garden soils evenly and constantly moist.
– Prepare garden beds with a low nitrogen fertilizer. Repeat it when halfway through the season.
– Artichokes bear best the second year and should be started from new plants every three to four years.
– Plant them about an inch deep and five or six inches apart.
– Keep rows of artichoke plants about five or six feet apart.
– Check artichokes when they are ready for harvesting by squeezing them. The heads should be tightly closed, and they should squeak a little bit when you squeeze them.
– Harvest when the buds are still tight and 3” across. Cut well below the bud with 1” of stem still attached.

Care for Artichokes

– Good drainage during their growing period is very important.
– Any infected or diseased plants, remove them from your garden immediately.
– Blight on the petals of the flower can occur. Treat with fungicide early.
– Slugs and snails eat young leaves. If there are too many to pick, try small dishes of beer sunk to ground level.

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