Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)

The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a perennial thistle originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–80 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke." These are inedible in older larger flowers.

How to grow
If you have at least 100 frost-free days in your area you can grow them. The Artichoke is generally grown as a perennial, but can also be grown as an annual.
You can sow seeds about half an inch deep and about 60 inches apart directly about two weeks before the last frost for best results. Keep the soil moist. You can nip the artichoke from the stem when the buds are about the size of a baseball. Artichoke need a long growing season, and mild weather areas. Winter protection requires applying a thick layer of mulch in colder regions.

Days to Harvest: Approximately 90 to 100 days
Days to Germinate: 14-21

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