Growing up gorgeous – artichokes again!

Loads of comments suddenly appeared on the last globe artichoke article, so I thought I’d pick up the threads before I move onto one of the great joys of this time of year, the leaf beets.

So, Barrie wants a photo of the globe artichoke when it’s been put to bed for the winter and I will certainly provide that when the time comes, and Merenda wonders why she can’t harvest globe artichokes in their first year from seed or offset, and I’ve explained all that in detail as a response to her comment, so you’ll have to go and hunt it down in the archives if you’ve been wondering why your globe artichokes seem to be carved out of balsa wood!

But back to the plot, in both senses of the word. Just about now, we’re getting organised for a rare treat that we’ll enjoy in a few weeks – artichoke stems. Here’s how to get a second crop from your plants.

1 – when the flower buds cease to appear, cut down the foliage of the plants, taking off about two foot from the top of the plant and quite a few leaves. Between now and the end of the month you should start to see some new shoots appearing at ground level.

2 -When they are about a foot to eighteen inches tall, bundle them together (we normally have four clumps around the base of a plant) and surround them with brown paper, corrugated cardboard or drainpipe – the first two you have to tie loosely around the stems with string, the last one you slide over the top of the clump.

3 – After five weeks or so, take off the blanching material and you should find you have some pale, rather bendy stems. Cut them and cook them like celery; we braise ours with finely chopped onion, some celery seed and good vegetable stock with a dash of sherry added.

If you’ve had woody artichokes this year, you can still get a decent blanched shoot crop by following these instructions … but keep a couple of those offshoots out of the blanching, pot them up in November and use them for next year’s plants and DON’T FORGET to pinch out every flowering bud or you’ll have rock-hard artichokes again.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, August 8, 2007

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