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Because artichokes are a gourmet-type vegetable, gardeners think they are impossible to grow. That is not the case, though they do require patience. Globe artichokes are the immature flower bud of a thistle plant, which are picked while they're still closed and firm. Popular varieties include Green Globe and Imperial Star.
Tip: Artichokes will not grow well in climates that dip below 25 degrees.
Because artichoke plants will produce for years to come, it’s important to start with good soil. The plants prefer loose, fertile, well-drained soil. Work a generous amount of composted manure and organic soil conditioner into the soil to a depth of 12".
Planting artichokes from seed is just like planting any other vegetable from seed. After the threat of frost has passed, place seeds in the ground and water well. In some climates, it is beneficial to start the seeds indoors and later transplant them into the garden. Either way, the plants should be spaced at least 4' apart.
When the first leaves appear, apply a granular slow-release fertilizer. Throughout the growing season feed with biweekly doses of liquid fertilizer. Apply a light layer of mulch around the plants to prevent weeds and cool the roots. Artichokes that get too hot grow too fast, forcing the flowers to open before the buds fully mature. Artichokes are spiny and thistly, so they have few pest problems.
Artichokes rarely produce in a single season. They need one to three years to produce high-quality edible flower buds. Harvest artichokes when they reach full size, but before the petals begin to open. The ideal artichoke is dense and compact. To harvest, cut the stem with a sharp knife a couple inches below the artichoke.
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