Kitchen Garden Seeds

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Artichoke

With blue-grey, spiky foliage reminiscent of medieval times, Artichokes are the most queenly inhabitants of the kitchen garden. Artichokes need warm temperatures, strong light and good ventilation to grow from seed. Transplant to the sunniest part of your garden when the soil is workable. The young plants should have several weeks of cool weather to set chokes but must be protected from any hard frosts. To cook, steam or simmer, using a non-reactive pot. Cut an X in the bottom and add a half lemon to the water. Cover and cook until the leaves pull out easily (about 20 to 40 minutes). Italian chefs love Artichokes and prepare them in various ways: in pasta, served al fresco in antipasto platters or dressed simply with olive oil, Garlic and lemon juice. Deer resistant. Perennial in zone 7 and warmer; grow as an Annual in colder zones.

Average seed life: 1 year.

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Gardening Tips

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.