The Artichoke is highly prized by gourmets. It should therefore not be hesitated to cultivate it, especially since it does not pose any particular difficulties as long as we can reserve a sunny corner of the garden. Let’s see how to plant an artichoke, care for it and what time of year to harvest it.
This is in spring that artichokes can be planted in May in areas where there is still a risk of freezing and from March where the climate is milder.
Here’s how to go about planting artichokes in the right conditions.
- Prepare the garden soil by digging deep enough.
- Manure the soil well thanks to the addition of compost,
- Dig a hole for each foot, ensuring that it is at least 2.5 to 3 times larger than the root ball (in width and depth),
- Count 100 to 120 cm between holes because artichokes need a lot of space. Experienced gardeners recommend dedicate 1 m² to each plant.
- Install an Artichoke foot per hole,
- Cover with the mixture of garden soil and manure,
- Tamp down,
- Water copiously.
Remove stones, weeds and their roots.
Take care to water moderately thereafter but regularly to promote recovery.
The Artichoke likes to be planted under the sun and sheltered from cold winds. He also needs a very rich soil in nutrients, well drained but always costs, and quite light because it hates soil that is too heavy and compact. If this is the case, it is essential to create a mound at least 20 cm high on which the artichokes can then be planted.
Once it is well rooted, it suffices to meet its few needs to enjoy an abundant harvest.
The Artichoke needs cool soil. It should therefore not dry out between two waterings. Throughout the summer period, with high temperatures and likely droughts, it is essential to make sure to water your artichokes very regularly, at least once a week. But be careful, the Artichoke is very sensitive to excess humidity. Keeping the soil fresh does not mean drowning the plants!
Watering must completely cease at the end of autumn and throughout the winter.
Apart from the absolutely essential fertilization when planting the artichokes, this rather greedy perennial vegetable plant must be given a boost every 20 days with a foliar fertilizer and this, until the harvest.
A little hoe is needed from time to time.
To allow the artichoke to have a good winter (because it is quite chilly and does not tolerate temperatures below -4°C), it is recommended to install a mulch at its foot. The ideal is to spread a generous layer, 5 to 6 cm thick, flax flakes, coconut bark or even dried lawn clippings, or even shredded dead leaves. After pruning the trees, you can also pass the branches through a shredder to make excellent mulch.
The use of a winter sail is perfect for complementing the protective effect of mulch. Everything must be done to optimize winter protection for the artichoke.
Note that mulch also keeps the soil cool in summer. This saves a little water. It is also useful for limiting the regrowth of weeds. In this way, we also save time since by mulching we reduce the hoeing sessions.
Once the harvest is done, all the stems that have flowered should be cut at the base.
Renew your Artichoke feet
As soon as the Artichoke has been in place for at least a year, it produces eyecups. If the rejections are numerous, one can very quickly be invaded. It is therefore necessary to eliminate at least some of them so that there are no more than 5 left on each foot. Beyond that, we would only exhaust the plant which could no longer produce enough.
The rejects thus recovered can be replanted. This is also particularly recommended when the plants reach the age of 4 years because their production begins to decrease. The eyecups therefore make it possible to renew a board of artichokes.
Buttering up the rows of artichokes prevents the plants from rotting due to excess humidity.
Pests and diseases
The black aphids are common on artichokes. It is possible to eliminate them naturally by inviting ladybugs to the garden, or by spraying the foliage with a mixture of 100 cl of water and 20 cl of black soap.
We can fear the maladies cryptogamiques or fungal diseases when we overwater, the Artichoke does not like excess water, or if we do not space the plants enough. Note that as a preventive measure, it is possible to spray a natural solution such as horsetail decoction. In the event of contamination by a pathogenic fungus, an appropriate treatment is applied, if possible harmless to health and the environment. A treatment based on sulfur or even copper can give good results, but it should not be abused. Prevention is better than cure…
Harvest your artichokes
The poivrade artichokes – with small heads – are harvested in spring or autumn, just before the formation of hay. Since they haven’t finished growing yet, their stems and buds are extremely tender. For the other varieties, i.e. the big-headed artichokesit is necessary to choose the moment when the bracts are just about to open, namely between summer and autumn in the first year of cultivation, then in spring in the following years.
Whatever its variety, the Artichoke is harvested in sharp knife. You just have to cut the stem about 8 or 10 cm below the head.
Attention, the Artichoke keeps for a short time once picked. It is necessary to avoid the blackening of the extremity of its leaves. At most, it can be kept for 3 days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, but on condition that it is raw. Once cooked, it oxidizes in just a few hours. It should therefore be consumed as soon as possible after cooking.
In case of very abundant harvestif the production greatly exceeds the needs of the family, simply marinate the artichokes in excellent quality olive oil and then place them in jars where they can be kept for several months.
Finally, note that any artichoke head is in fact a flower head. If this inflorescence is not harvested it quickly gives birth to a beautiful purplish blue flower. You can compose splendid bouquets of artichoke flowers, knowing that they keep very well after being dried. The Artichoke is therefore as delicious as it is decorative.