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Artichokes
The bud, or immature flower, is the part of the artichoke that is harvested. The edible portions of the bud are the tender bases of the leaves (bracts), and the fleshy base upon which the flowers are borne (heart).

The artichoke does best in frost-free areas with cool summers. Freezing temperatures kill the buds, and hot, dry conditions destroy their tenderness. Artichokes need an open, sheltered site on well drained soil.

The artichoke is a perennial, so it is best to prepare the soil well before planting by mixing in plenty of well rotted organic matter into the soil. Artichokes can be produced from seed, but it is best to plant by using root divisions which are generally available at your local nurseries.

Healthy plants can be dug up, the root divided and replanted. Suckers can be removed from established plants in early to mid spring. They should be about 8 inches long, and well rooted, with at least two shoots growing off of it.

After clearing the soil from around the roots, cut them free from the parent. Using suckers to replace some of the older plants will increase the overall yield of the bed, since young plants are ready for harvest in late summer, and older plants will be ready in late spring and early summer.

Artichokes reach a height of 3 or 4 feet and will spread of up to 6 feet in diameter, so allow plenty of space for them. It is best to plant them in a shady area, separately from the rest of the garden so that they won't be disturbed by the planting of annual vegetables. Spacing at intervals of 4 to 6 feet.

Don't plant them near tree roots, as they don't compete well. The root sections should be set 6 to 8 inches deep. Artichokes like frequent irrigation. Moisture deficiency will cause loose buds. However artichokes dislike soggy conditions. Planting them on mounds or in rows with irrigation furrows will be of benefit, along with the addition of well rotted organic matter to help prevent drought in the summer and waterlogging during winter.


Plant suckers or divisons about 2 1/2 feet apart, and keep them shaded until they are established. Artichokes will benefit greatly from an application of high potash fertilizer evey two weeks when they are actively growing.

If you live in an area with mild winter temperatures, you can cover the artichokes with a layer of straw to protect them, and remove it in the spring before they begin growing again.

Each flowering stem will produce one large artichoke at the tip, along with smaller ones below. The first year, there will be only a few heads produced, and if you remove them, the plant will focus it's energy on developing it's root system, and will become well established. Although you may be tempted to allow the plant to produce fruit, patience will be rewarded the following year.

Harvesting should occur in mid to late summer, when the scales have closed up nice and tight, by removing the top bud first, along with 2 -3 inches of stem. Leave the side buds until they have grown large enough.

Slugs are the biggest problem for artichokes, but an application of slug bait can fix it pretty easily. Generally, a regular sprinkling of slug bait at the beginning of the season, and every two weeks thereafter, is a good protective measure for your gardens anyway.

Artichokes are highly nutritous, and are good for the liver, detoxification, and healing. They are know to reduce blood sugar, and cholesterol, stimulate the gall bladder, and assist in the metabolism of fat.

The artichoke is usually cooked by boiling it for a half hour or so, in salted water with a touch of lemon, and is done, when you can push a fork or knife through the heart.

The outer leaves can be pulled off by hand, and dipped in mayo, melted butter, or any other sauce you might enjoy.

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