Allotment or Garden? Globe Artichokes

Why? Well if you grow them from seed, artichoke plants tend to be variable with only 60-70% of the plants producing big edible chokes – almost all plants will produce small ones though. So on the allotment, grown from seed, there can be quite a disappointment if nearly half your plants don’t produce a good crop, however, in the garden, tucked in among other plants, the globe artichoke looks great even if it doesn’t ‘choke up’.

The answer is probably to grow both!

It’s a fussy old thing, insisting on good soil, regular watering and feeding, and frost protection in winter, but the reward is delicious. On top of all that cosseting, it doesn’t last forever – canny allotment holders will plant rooted suckers each spring so that mature specimens can be disposed of after a few years.

Use offsets (rooted suckers) that are about 9 inches tall – they must have roots attached or nothing will happen. Raising plants from seed is possible, but often considered too much trouble for the reason given above. Assuming you do grow seed stock (I do) look for the American variety Imperial Star, which is much more uniform in choke production from seed than previous varieties. For purple globe artichoke, relatively tolerant of both heat and cold and good when grown from seed, seek out Purple Sicilian.

Seed sowing technique: Sow thinly in one inch deep drills mid March to April – the drills should be a foot apart. Thin to nine inches between plants, protect over the winter, and plant out in ‘permanent’ positions in the following spring.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, March 1, 2008

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