Raw or cooked, barigoule or romaine, the artichoke knows how to be appreciated on our tables. But gardeners often think that it is difficult to grow. It is not! The cynara scolymus is even rather easy to cultivate in the vegetable garden. You just have to remember that it is cold and needs a little space. So put all your heart into growing the artichoke…
The artichoke, a great head!
In this perennial plant of the Asteraceae family, it is the flower that we eat. A flower which is presented in inflorescence in capitulum, and which, not collected, is decorated with splendid blue-violet colors, rather close to those of the thistle, its cousin.
How to plant artichokes in the garden?
When to plant them?
In March and April, you can get carnations, i.e. artichoke stems, sold in cups in garden centers.
Where to grow ?
The artichoke likes healthy, well-drained, fresh and rich soil. Before planting, the soil should be fertilized with a well decomposed manure and a fertilizer rich in nitrogen. You should also choose a sunny location for your plants.
How to plant?
Artichoke plants should be planted 80 cm to 1 meter apart from each other. The artichoke grows quickly and can shade its neighbors. Dig a basin to facilitate watering.
Artichokes should be hoeled and watered regularly. But it is especially with the arrival of cold weather that they require more care. From November onwards, the large leaves should be cut off, the stems should be cut back to a height of 25 cm and possibly wrapped in kraft paper. Also think of buttering to form a protective layer and finish with a good mulching. The artichoke will wait warmly until the following year.
Artichokes are harvested from May to September, especially in June and July.
The artichoke heads are harvested before the leaves spread with a sharp knife. The first year, the artichoke plant will produce little or nothing, the second year, we can count 6 to 10 heads per plant.
The little tricks of the gardener
When the artichoke head is the size of an egg, make a slit in the stem (just below the head) and slip a 1 cm piece of wood in. This will keep the sap in the head, promoting its growth.
Some gardeners cover the heads with parchment paper or a thin cloth to make the leaves more tender.
Green or purple, the choice is yours
It is important to know that green artichokes will be more hardy than purple ones. Among the green ones, you can choose the “gros vert du Laon”, hardy and productive, the “camus de Bretagne”, later and with large rounded heads, the “vert globe” with compact heads and tightly packed scales. Among the violets, the “violet de Provence” is the best known with its small conical size but we can also grow the “violet Améthyste”.