Growing artichokes on the allotment

We have two lots of artichokes: the ones in the ground, grown from a sliced-up globe artichoke root and the ones at home, which were grown from seed and look pretty healthy although they are not big enough yet to survive a winter up on the plot, where the winds are awesome and the temperatures can drop to semi-glacial on rare February nights.

So the ones in the ground have been thriving, and a few days ago I went around and did the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do since I got the allotment – I cut off every single bud. Did you know that the globe artichoke is actually related to the thistle? Well I did, as soon as I tried to remove those heads – I speared myself on a dozen different spikes and prickles at once! If you’re growing perennial globe artichokes (not that weird variety that is grown as an annual in the USA) then in the first year, you should remove all the flower-heads because (a) they are pretty well inedible and (b) taking them off strengthens the plant so that it can cope with the winter and produce better and more edible buds the following year.

It was a tough thing to do though because the buds are so pretty, even if you’re not going to eat them, and I notice that most people don’t bother to use them as a crop, perhaps because they are a bit of a faddle to prepare. Anyway, I told myself that the end justified the means, and got on with it.

On the other hand, a crop that we grew to run to seed is doing very well – the sunflowers are looking gorgeous and should be able to provide some winter food for small birds on the plot, as well as the damn squirrels and mice.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, August 20, 2009

5 Comments:

Blogger Tanya Walton said...

I never knew artichokes were related to the thistle...to be honest...I've never even prepared or eaten artichoke...hhmm?? wonder what they taste like??

August 21, 2009 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

I've just been catching up with your blog after my fortnight away. You seem to be harvesting lots of goodies. I love this time of year when you are paid back for all the hard work you've put in.

August 22, 2009 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

They taste utterly delicious. If in doubt, buy a jar of artichoke hearts in olive oil and try them.

To cook - cut off the stem to leave a flat base and remove any tough outer leaves. Cut the spiky points of each remaining leaf. Put the artichokes in one layer in a suitable saucepan or steamer. Sprinkle over some salt and lemon juice.

Pour in enough water to come halfway up the artichokes. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer or steam for 40–45 minutes.

They are cooked when a leaf pulls easily out of the centre and the base is soft when pricked with a skewer. Drain and leave upside down in a colander for five minutes.

August 24, 2009 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger kjulier said...

We've just planted our first artichokes this year. I am so glad that I found your blog, because we would have left them to bud away as they would in this first year -- and would have been sorely disappointed. In previous postings about artichokes, you mentioned about cutting them back to get second-growth something like cardoons (celery-like stalks that can be eaten), and also about prepping them for winter. Will you have pictures of your artichokes and updates on what you are doing with them? I so want to have yummy ones next year!

August 31, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Helene said...

I lost most of my artichokes last winter and started a load of from seed. It is now August and though they are growing well they are not as large as I would like = any suggestions on how to give the a boost?

August 14, 2011 at 12:50 PM  

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