GLOBE ARTICHOKE (Cynara scolymus)
Planting time: Best winter to early spring.
The Globe artichoke is a compact, architectural plant with grey-green foliage and thistle-like flowers. They can grow to 1.5m high and to 1.2 m wide so give them the room they need when choosing a growing spot for them. The immature flowerheads are harvested and cooked and the flowers are useful as cut flowers. Artichokes for eating should be harvested when the buds reach maximum size but before the bracts begin to open or change colour to purple. The tastiest buds develop when the temperature is between 15 – 18 degrees.
Globe artichokes like a full sun, wind sheltered position. Plant the corms in a well-drained compost rich soil, about 7cm deep. They grow best with regular, deep watering but will handle periods of dryness. If you are growing them as vegetable, keep the water up to them. Use potash to encourage flower production and an annual application of manure each spring will provide good results. Look out for snails and slugs on the young leaves, aphids and mites can be a problem with new growth.
Plants develop suckers which can be divided – use a sharp spade to ensure minimal damage to the parent plant and offshoots. Artichokes grow best in climate zones with cool, mild summers. They can be difficult to grow and short lived in humid zones.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES (Helianthus tuberosus)
Planting time: In warmer climates they can be planted in late autumn and early winter. In cooler climates they are traditionally planted at the onset of spring.
The Jerusalem artichoke is a fast growing perennial, producing yellow daisy-like flowers in autumn. It’s related to sunflowers and despite its name bears no relation to the Globe Artichoke. They can grow 2-3m high; removal of flowers at bud stage will improve tuber production. Tubers can vary from white to brown to red to purple in colour.
It is an edible tuber, similar in flavour and texture to potatoes or water
chestnuts. They are delicious roasted.
It likes rich well-drained soil, so apply plenty of organic matter if required. Plant them about 20cm deep and 30cm apart and backfill with soil.
They can be harvested in 15-20 weeks. Many people wait for the long stems to die down before harvest, but it’s fine to harvest from mid autumn onwards even though the leaves may not be wilted. The tubers usually remain at the base of the plant but if you fish around in the bottom of the hole you’ll find them.