There are plenty of reasons to grow artichokes, one of them being that they’re beyond tasty. And don’t even get me started on the various benefits of including these meaty plants into your diet!
Anyway, since it’s almost February, and everyone knows late February to early March is the ideal time to plant artichokes, I decided it’s the perfect moment for an article like this – one that explains how to grow artichokes.
Several varieties can successfully be grown in the United States.
Generally speaking, these can be classified either as green or purple. Besides color, another thing that differentiates these is the life cycle – you'll see that some of these are annual, while others are widespread perennial varieties.
Three Ways To Start Your Artichoke Garden
The entire process of planting and caring for your artichokes may vary depending on how you started your garden – with seeds, dormant roots or shoots taken from an existing plant.
There’s one thing to keep in mind, though – you’ll need to give your artichokes a head start, especially when your goal is to include them into your existing vegetable garden. They need around six months to mature, so plan ahead.
While it's still easy, growing artichokes from seed require some time. To get a head start, consider planting the seeds indoors in late winter (late February to early March is the right time frame) – all you need are several 4-inch containers (pots) and some bright fluorescent lights to keep them under. Alternatively, you can keep them in a heated greenhouse – if you have one, that is.
The ideal moment for planting artichoke seeds would be at least eight weeks before the last anticipated frost date. Around six weeks before the last frost date in your area, you should start exposing them to the outdoor elements, such as the wind, cool temperatures, as well as sunlight.
But when’s the right time to transfer your seedlings outside permanently?
Well, I would suggest waiting until three to four weeks before the final frost – they need to experience temperatures lower than 45 degrees because such exposure will trigger flowering.
Shoots From An Existing Plant
In case you have access to a fully grown, healthy artichoke, wait until early spring (for example, April) and remove a rooted shoot using a knife and a spade, which will ensure the roots come out with the shoot once you remove it.
This method of planting is an excellent choice for colder climates, especially when you know you won’t have more than a hundred days without frost per year.
Dormant roots can be bought in the local nursery. Alternatively, you can remove them from your existing plants at the end of the growing season, then return them to the garden at the beginning of the next one.
One thing you need to remember when you’re planting dormant roots is to place them into the ground vertically. Also, make sure you leave the growth buds just barely above the soil’s surface.
Taking Care Of Your Artichoke Plants
While they aren't particularly fussy overall, you'll still need to provide specific conditions if your goal is to grow big, healthy artichokes. Let's take a closer look at the two most important factors of caring for artichoke plants.
Taking care of soil is particularly important if you plan on growing perennial artichokes; think of it this way – those plants are going to be there for the next five years, so you need to provide them plenty of space and proper nourishment.
Well-drained, light and fertile soil is what they need the most. Also, keep in mind that artichokes are heavy feeders, which means you're going to have to fertilize the ground – a lot. It would be best if you would prepare the soil before you even plant the artichokes – a shovel of aged manure or compost (or a cup of organic fertilizer) should be worked into the soil before planting. For added nutrients, including a half a cup of feather (or blood) meal, as well as bone meal for each plant is a good idea.
During summer, a liquid fertilizer will probably be your best option – two teaspoons of nitrogen-based fertilizer per artichoke about a month after you planted them (and every four weeks after that) and you're good to go.
The two main reasons why artichokes fail to thrive are summer draughts and waterlogged soil during winter, which means you’ll have to be extra careful about it.
A good rule of thumb is one (to one and a half) inches of water per week. However, don’t forget to count in the rain and always water the plants accordingly.
Did you know that water is the deciding factor when it comes to the buds being tender? Too little or too much and you’ve ruined your developing buds. So, keep an eye on your plants, especially during dry months – you’ll probably have to water them up to three times a week, to make sure everything is kept moist, deep roots included.
Additional Artichoke Growing Tips
So, there you have it – all you need to know about how to grow artichokes in one place. Since February is right around the corner – and I've mentioned that late February is the ideal time to plant artichoke seeds – get ready to start your artichoke garden by following my tips.
And in case you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.