Days to Germination:7-12 days
Artichokes need moderate temperatures, strong sunlight and good ventilation to grow from seed. Start indoors 8 weeks before the last frost date: sow 3 to 4 seeds per pot or 1 seed per peat pot, barely moistening the soil. Artichokes develop a tiny taproot and are extremely susceptible to damping off, so barely water the young seedlings. When 2"to 3" tall, transfer to individual 4" pots. An ideal location for Artichokes is a well-draining bed or a raised bed in strong sunlight. Prepare area by digging in well rotted manure and/or compost. Plant seedlings in the garden after the last frost, adding fertilizer under each plant. The key to good choke development is to time outdoor planting so that they get at least 3 weeks of cool, 50°F weather (protect them during any hard frosts). Harvest while “petals” are still closed, using a sharp blade. Artichokes are perennials in areas with mild winters.
Fool Proofing Artichokes
The part of the Artichoke that we eat is actually the flower bud—picked before it bursts into fuzzy, brilliant purple blooms. In nature, since artichokes are biennials, the plants set buds in their second year. Before annual varieties were developed, it was necessary to “vernalize” the plants in areas where temperatures fell too low for the plants to survive the winter (zone 7 and colder). This meant giving them an artificial “winter” – a chilling period as young plants, to trick them into thinking the warm days of June were their second summer. With annual varieties like Imperial Star it is still important to give your transplants a bit of a chill in spring, just to be sure they’ll set buds. A couple of weeks at 50°F should do the trick.
Giving Artichokes a fertile soil will help to insure productive plants. Frequent watering and a straw mulch to retain moisture, will also increase bud production, especially in climates where summers are very warm.
Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Artichokes Are Garden Gold