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How To Grow Artichokes 101

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w_r_ranch

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The artichoke, a member of the thistle family, has been cultivated & enjoyed since the time of the Romans. Artichoke is both a nutritious vegetable & can reach 5' in height/width. If allowed to bloom, the flower can be 7" in diameter.



Soil preparation
Artichoke produces best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil, but will grow in a wide range of soils. The plant’s deep roots need relatively deep soils with adequate volume for root development, thus sandy soils with excessive drainage should be avoided.

Although artichokes are moderately salt tolerant, although soil with a high salt content will reduce their growth and yield.

Seed preparation
Planting early because it can take up about 60-75 days before plants are of suitable size for planting in the garden. Plant the seeds 1/4" deep in a potting mix & maintain them at 70-80 degrees for the best germination. Water seeds regularly & shade them from the hot afternoon sun.

Fertilizing
Artichokes grow best when fertilized regularly. It is best to have your soil tested & amend the soil according to the test results/recommendations. If a soil test is not done, follow these general recommendations:
  • If manure is available, mix 100 to 140 pounds of composted manure per 100 square feet into the soil before planting.
  • Nitrogen, phosphorus & potash are best applied before planting & should be worked in. Apply about 1/4 pound of both phosphorus & potash & about 1/10 pound of nitrogen per 100 square feet). Remember to apply an additional 3/10 pound per 100 square feet 6-8 weeks after transplanting them into the garden. Foliar applications of a liquid fertilizer containing calcium & zinc are recommended every 2 weeks during active growth in early spring will help with any fungus problems.
Planting
Transplant seedlings 3' to 5' apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Transplants grow slowly initially, but as the weather warms, artichoke plants will rapidly increase in size. Remember, artichoke should be planted in a well drained soil & mulched well to help reduce weeds & conserve soil moisture.

Care during the season
Do not expose artichokes to temperatures below 25 degrees F in the winter. If there is a threat of frost, cover plants with a 6-inch layer of straw mulch, leaves, a bucket or frost blanket, or some other form of frost protection.

A hot, dry climate causes artichoke buds to open quickly & destroys the tenderness of the edible parts. In the summer, irrigation will help keep temperatures down in the crop canopy to prevent bud opening.

Watering
Artichokes are deep-rooted & require adequate moisture when growing to produce fruit. Moisture stress may result in black tip, which is only cosmetic damage because the edible portion of the bud is not affected. Black tip is most common when conditions are sunny, warm
& windy.

Diseases
Powdery mildew, Verticillium wilt & botrytis rot are common during rainy weather. Curly dwarf virus & bacterial crown rot are other artichoke diseases. Leave plenty of space between plants to reduce the chance of diseases becoming a problem.

Artichokes are also susceptible to root rot, so do not let the soil become too wet.

Insects
Artichoke plume moth: The adult plume moth is beige to brownish beige in color with a wingspan of .75 to 1.25 inches and fringed hind wings. The females lay their eggs singly on the underside of artichoke leaves or on the bud stalk. The larvae are about .04 inch (1 mm) in length and pale yellow. The young larvae generally feed externally but tunnel into the leaf stalk after their first molt.


The larvae will feed on any part of the artichoke plant; economic damage is mainly from feeding on floral buds, as damaged shoots will often recover. The artichoke plume moth is mainly a problem where artichokes are grown as perennials. As with all caterpillars, Bt is your friend.

Aphids: The perennial garden pest... Kill them with malathion, neem oil, pyrethrins or azadirachtin.

Spider mites: Yet another perennial garden pest... You can kill them with malathion, neem oil, pyrethrins or azadirachtin too.

Harvesting
A healthy plant should produce 6-9 buds per plant. The main harvest usually occurs in May & June. Select buds for their size, compactness & age. All buds of suitable size should be harvested by cutting the stem 2 to 3 inches below the base of the bud.

Old stems should be removed as soon as all buds have been harvested to allow new stems to grow.
 

ErnieCopp

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Keep in mind that these may be the most beautiful plants in your garden, so if you have the choice, put them in a prominent location where they can be seen and admired. As the bottom fronds become heavy enough to droop, they should be removed close to the base. If the fronds are kept trimmed neatly,it also makes it easier to controll pests around the plant.
Mine survived the winters here, and grew to be 5 to 6' tall.

Ernie
 
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