How to Grow Artichokes from Seed: A Comprehensive Guide
Have you ever savored the exquisite taste of a freshly harvested artichoke and wondered how to grow these leafy wonders yourself? Artichokes, a type of thistle cultivated as food, might seem somewhat intimidating to grow, especially from seeds. But with some basic information and tips, you can soon be growing your own artichoke plants. Let’s dive into how you can plant, care, and harvest artichokes, right in your backyard.
1. Understanding the Artichoke Plant and Its Requirements
Artichokes thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. They can tolerate a variety of soil types, including clay, sandy, and loam, but prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH range. If your local climate has mild winters and warm summers, that’s optimal for these plants.
Artichokes are perennials that can produce for up to 5 years if well cared for. The plant needs ample space due to its large size and should be set at least 4 feet apart from other plants if grown in a row. Make no mistake, your artichoke plants, with their large, handsome, grey-green leaves, will be a beautiful addition to your garden’s aesthetics.
2. Preparing to Plant Artichokes from Seed
To increase your chances of a successful harvest, start the artichoke seeds indoors in a seed tray, before transferring them outside. Soak the seeds overnight for best germination chances. Fill seed trays with a good-quality seed-raising mix and plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep.
Once you’ve planted the seeds, place the tray in a warm location, ideally 75 to 85 degrees F. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and with patience, you should see germination in about 7-14 days.
3. Migrating the Seedlings to Your Garden
After the last winter frost has passed, and the seedlings have grown to around 5 inches tall, they’re ready to be transplanted into your garden. It’s important to harden off your seedlings first, gradually introducing them to outside temperatures to avoid shock.
Once they’re acclimated, choose a sunny location with well-draining soil to plant them. Remember, artichoke plants grow large, so ensure there is plenty of space between them.
4. Caring for Your Artichoke Plants
Proper care entails regular watering (to keep soil moist), cutting off the flowering tops to encourage more bud production, and protecting the plant in colder weather. Contrary to some beliefs, the artichoke plant is not a ‘plant it and forget it’ addition to your garden.
In addition to regular watering, it’s recommended to feed your artichokes with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season to ensure healthy plants.
5. Harvesting the Artichokes
Once the buds are well-developed but still closed, they’re ready to be harvested. Cut the stem about 1-2 inches below the bud using a sharp knife. Don’t leave the buds until they’ve opened, as they become inedible then.
The first yield from the plants grown from seeds can take up to two years, but with proper care seasons after, they will produce several times in a year.
Frequently Asked Questions1. Can I grow Artichokes in a pot?
Yes. If you’re short on space, you can grow artichokes in large pots. Remember, the pot needs to be large enough to accommodate the mature plant.
2. Are there different types of artichoke seeds?
Yes. Some of the popular choices among gardeners are Green Globe, Imperial Star, and Purple of Romagna. Each has its own unique flavor and growth traits.
3. Should I cut off the flowering tops of the artichoke plant?
Yes. By cutting off the flowering tops, you encourage the plant to produce more artichoke buds.