How To Grow Artichokes From Seed

Artichoke plant is native to Southern Mediterranean regions. The botanical name is Cynara scolymus and the common names are green artichoke, French artichoke, artichoke, globe artichoke. This plant is herbaceous perennials and is a member of the Asteraceae family, a group that includes dandelions, thistles, and sunflowers. Artichoke plants are short-lived perennials in warmer climates but they are normally grown as annuals in cooler regions. The mature size is about three to six feet tall, four to five feet wide. The plant is typically grown for is edible flower buds, which are harvested before the flowers open. The flower color is purple. The blooming time is late summer, early fall.

How to Plant Artichokes

Light Requirement: This plant grow best in full sun. Artichoke plant can tolerate some shade, although the flower buds will suffer to some extent.

Soil Requirement: This plant prefers a sandy, well-drained and fertile soil. A soil pH slightly on the alkaline side is really the best. A slightly sandy soil is perfect. Good drainage is very important in other to prevent the roots from rotting, most especially in areas where the plant will be overwintered. On the other hand the soil must also be able to retain water long enough to allow the plant roots to take it in during hot summers.

If you are actually growing artichokes as perennials, it is very important to amend the soil before planting in other to ensure that the plant will grow well in future years. If your garden soil is really poor you can consider growing your artichoke plants in raised beds.

Water requirement: Water the artichoke plants frequently and deeply 1 to 3 times in a week, this will actually keep the flower buds fleshy and tender and it will also help to develop a strong root system that will keep the artichoke plants upright.

Temperature and Humidity requirement: Artichoke plants actually prefer warm weather that is relatively dry, like the one found in the Mediterranean region and in California. Excessive heat can cause the artichoke plant to bloom prematurely. If they are grown as perennials, the plants favor areas with mild winters (which is about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and cool, moist summers (which is about 70 to 80 degrees F). A very hot soil will make the artichoke plants flower too quickly, you need to apply a thick mulch around the base of the artichoke plants to keep the soil cool.

Fertilizer Requirement: You can easily apply a balanced vegetable plant food every 2 weeks throughout their growing season.

Growing Artichokes From Seed

The Artichoke seeds can be start indoors at least 8 weeks before your last frost date. You need to harden off the seedlings before planting them outside. You don’t need to wait until all danger of frost has passed, the plant need to experience a slight chilling before they will set buds. This can be easily accomplished by putting the artichoke plants out in mid-spring and exposing them for a week to ten days to a temperature of about fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

Pests and Diseases control

A small number of pests attack artichokes. Pest like slugs can really be a problem during damp weather, most especially on the younger, tender leaves. Also, insects like Aphids can also become a nuisance, but you can hose them off before they take over. Giving the artichokes plants enough space for air to flow freely will help minimize the problems of aphid.

Also, gray mold or Botrytis can affect the plant leaves and flower bracts. The artichokes plant leaves will turn brown and then grayish. Make sure you remove the affected leaves as soon as the disease is apparent. If the infections are severe you can use a fungicide labeled for edible plants, such as neem.

Harvesting Artichokes

Under normal conditions an established artichoke plants produce buds periodically throughout the year. Although in most areas the buds begin to form in early summer. The center bud will mature first and they can be harvested as soon as it has reached about three inches in diameter. You can harvest while the bracts are still tightly folded and the bud is still firm.

After the center bud has been cut the side shoots will still begin to produce smaller buds. You can harvest when they are firm and when they have reached about one to three inches in diameter.

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