Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are large, architectural perennial plants, which are grown for their large edible flower buds and ornamental enough for the flower garden.
Sow March / April
Globe artichokes are not too fussy about soil, as long as it's reasonably fertile and well drained.
Transplant to their permanent position when they are large enough to handle, with at least five true leaves, allowing 60-90cm (2-3ft) between plants. Water in well.
Seed-grown plants usually flower the year of sowing.
To keep stock young and vigorous, divide plants every two to three years and plant at the same spacing as seeds.
Keep crops weed free, mulch with well-rotted manure or similar in spring when the soil is warm and moist. Feed with general fertiliser such as Growmore or similar in spring, to increase yields.
Water during dry weather.
In cold areas, cover plants with a mulch of straw, compost or well-rotted manure in late autumn, to protect them during cold winter weather.
They become more prolific each year until, after several years, they run out of steam and the planting needs to be renewed.
Remove buds, ideally when they reach the size of a golf ball, with a pair of secateurs from July; before they open and start to flower. After harvesting the main head, secondary heads appear, these too can be harvested, when large enough.
Cooking tips: boil or steam immature heads until tender, drain, remove the leaf scales one by one, dip them in melted butter, vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce and then suck out the juicy flesh from each scale. Finish off with the succulent base. Mature flowers take longer to cook and are less flavoursome, but can be cooked and consumed in the same way. Delicious!
ie: Asparagus and Pumpkins
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