Learning how to grow artichokes is one of the best ways to have a supply of this nutritious food throughout the year. Growing your own ensures you have organic produce that is less expensive but packed with flavor and nutrition.
Learn How to Grow Artichokes
New varieties of artichokes have opened the door for people throughout North America to grow this once only warm climate crop. Check with your local garden shop to find out which varieties will work best in your area.
You can purchase pre-grown plants from your local nursery or you can start artichoke seeds indoors. If you plan to start seeds indoors, give them at least two months, up to three months, to sprout and grow indoors before conditioning them to the outdoors. Once plants reach between four and five inches in height, you can begin conditioning them to the outdoors by placing them outdoors for a few hours each day. Gradually lengthen the time the plants are left outdoors. Do not place these plants outdoors until after the threat of frost has passed in your area.
Once you are ready to plant the artichokes, follow these tips:
- Select a location for the plants that gets full sun. Plants need six or more hours of sunlight each day.
- Keep taller plants from shading over the artichokes.
- Check the soil mixture. For the best results, ensure the soil composition is between 6.5 and 7.0 pH level. You also need a nutrient rich soil. If your soil does not meet these requirements, adding additional nutrient rich soil to the area and using compost material can help.
- Well-drained soil is best. The artichokes will need their roots to stay moist but water needs to drain easily away as necessary.
- Add phosphorus and potassium nutrients to the soil if possible. You can get this from a good compost matter or your local nursery will offer options for you.
- You should plant artichokes at least three feet apart in rows. Give each plant at least five feet of space to allow the plant to grow outward.
- Mulch around the artichoke plants after you have placed them in the ground. This will help keep the plant roots moist but not overly wet.
As the summer moves on, you will notice buds start to form on the artichoke plants. Watch these buds carefully as they are a clear sign of when to harvest the plant. You should harvest the artichokes before the buds actually open up. They should still be green and still have a tight structure to them.
In most artichoke varieties, you can continuously harvest the plants throughout the summer. The center bud of each plant is usually the one to ripen the fastest. Then, you are likely to see smaller buds open up around the outside of the central bud. Treat these side shoots the same as you would the larger ones.
Perennial or Annual?
Each variety of artichoke differs slightly when it comes to whether or not these plants will re-bloom the following year. If you live in colder climates, it is unlikely artichokes will come back for you the following year. Therefore, no steps after harvest need to be taken.
For those who live in milder regions, though, artichoke plants can be cut back during the middle to late fall months. These plants should re-grow the coming spring.
If you live in climate zones 8 through 10, you do not need to place any type of material over the top of the plants. They do not need winter protection. Those in climate zones 4 through 7 will benefit from winter coverage. Use a mound of pine needs or two to three layers of leaves to add protection to the plants.
In the spring, remove the winter protection unless it has composted. Prepare the surrounding soil by checking its pH level and adding more compost material if needed. Once you know how to grow artichokes, the process is easy each year.