Artichoke advice and tips required


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Hi, this year i wanted to add something new to my garden, whilst at the garden centre i picked up a packet of artichoke seeds, obviously it has planting/growing instructions on the pack, however i was wondering if anyone here has experience growing these and could perhaps share some advice/tips and success rate. I currently grow a few herbs sage,basil,parsley,oregano,rocket,mint and chives. I also have onions, red onions, garlic, carrots, spring onions and 5 varieties of tomatoes ( gardeners delight, moneymaker, golden sunrise, tigerella and marmande ) then i have some strawberries and rhubarb. In the next few weeks i plan to get some cabbage and lettuce, perhaps an apple tree too, my potatoes will be planted out in the next few weeks as well, i have no problems or worries about anything other than the artichokes as i have never even eaten one before let alone grow one, so all help and advice will be appreciated.
 
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I've never grown artichokes, but i have eaten tons of them:love:. First let's take a look at your climate. There is a small town south of San Francisco, USA called Castroville that proclaims itself to be the "Artichoke Center of the World", so we know what kind of climate artichokes (a thistle) thrive in. Castroville is near the Pacific coast with mild winters, cool summers, and lots of fog and is described as having a Mediterranean climate. The artichoke is generally boiled or steamed in water until one of the leaves can easily be detached from the stalk (about 1/2 hr to 45 minutes generally). Being a thistle, each leaf has a small spine at the top. Some people cut the spines off before cooking but i have never bothered. To eat, the leaves are removed from the stalk and eaten one by one, held by fingers near the top where the spine is, inserted into mouth and the fleshy parts are removed with the teeth still holding the spiny end with the fingers, then what remains of the scraped leaf is deposited on to the plate or perhaps a small bowl provided for the purpose. Often, they are served with something to dip the leaf in before inserting it in the mouth, for example melted butter, or some mayonnaise based sauce, or just mayonnaise. It sounds very strange to describe the process, but they are well worth it, believe me. The artichoke plant makes a magnificent magenta colored flower. That's about all i know :)
 
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I used to live right up the coast from Castroville, artichokes are sold everywhere from roadside stands to farm markets! My favourite was roasted artichokes, yum. They can be cooked a myriad of ways, just Google for recipes.

I've never grown them, but I imagine with what you're growing now, it shouldn't be a problem.
 
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http://durgan.org/2009/From Previous Years/18 September 2008 Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)/HTML/index.htm 18 September 2008 Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

I grew artichokes for about four years. They were placed in the garden in the Spring (June) from seedlings started in the Winter. They never over-wintered in Zone 5. Above is the best picture that I could find. A plant gets huge and needs a spacing of 2.5 feet from center to center.. They like warm weather for max production and a fair amount of Sun. They are basically a large thistle. They are basically perennials and produce in the second year, but mine produced well in the first year. Zone 5 is too cold and I never got nine to over-winter due to frost. One year a plant survived but it did not produce a head.

 
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Ah, i forgot to mention about the "heart" of the artichoke. When all the leaves have been removed from the stalk during eating, you are left with the heart of the artichoke. It is the prize at the end of the journey. Scrape the fuzzy stuff with spoon or fingers off and you are left with a concave shaped disk on top of the stalk....soooo yummy:) I don't think anyone eats the stalk. It is too stringy and most people chop it off before cooking. Can you eat an artichoke raw? I don't think so and wouldn't want to try it.
 
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Raw artichokes are NOT good. :p

The heart is the best part for sure. I buy then canned (because fresh 'chokes are not readily available here) and add to pizza. A common pizza ingredient out west...have never seen it here though.
 
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Thank you Beverly for taking time to reply, i live in the UK and we only get around 3-4 weeks of really nice weather, i also live near the coast so perhaps i will be lucky enough to grow them, i actually just read up a little about them and how they are eaten, I think it is worth trying and if my family or myself like them i will continue, if not i guess i will transfer into my front garden and have some pretty flowers :)
 
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Beth thanks for your reply, i have been reading up a little but had not seen roasted, mainly steamed or boiled, i also noted they can be added to pasta/stews/soups...so really hoping they work for me, and i love honey roasted parsnips, so will be sure to try roasted artichokes :)
 
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Durgan that is a great pic, thanks for sharing. I'm sorry yours did not work out as perhaps you wanted, it is fairly cold here too, i suppose all i can do is try, if i don't succeed at least i will have learned. Either way i am really excited now and can't wait to see how things work out, thanks for replying :)
 
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I hope you will keep us posted re how your artichokes are doing.:) Have your told your family that you are growing thistles for dinner yet?
 
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seeds8.jpg
Sure i will. Yes they know it is a thistle and are really excited about it, luckily they are really adventurous when it comes to food and they will try anything once :) This is them just coming through, alongside some tomatoes which are getting leggy as they are still inside atm.
 
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Yes I would like to vicariously enjoy your artichoke growing adventure, since they sure won't easily grow up here in the frozen north!

The hearts will be great in soups and stews. Be aware only the tender base of the leaves are edible, even after cooking the tips will be tough and stringy. That's part of the charm... it takes work to eat the yummy bits of the leaves! Sort of like pomegranate... Worth it, but you have to eat the good bits slowly. :)
 
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They are doing ok atm i think because they are inside, fingers crossed they are alright when they are planted out. Yes i have been reading up and learning about them , how to cook and eat etc, fascinating really. I have no idea what they taste like so it will be a new experience for the whole family. I will update when i plant them out :)
 
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I knew there must be a utube video on how to eat an artichoke, because there are utube videos on just about everything. Have you seen this one? :)

 
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@Durgan...me too, but i don't cut the spines off the top. Do you have a favorite sauce that you dip them in?
 
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