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Cardoons

Closely related to Artichokes, Cardoons produce large Celery-like stalks that taste much like Artichokes when cooked. Their thick silvery stalks may also be eaten raw like Celery or Fennel. Although uncommon in the US, Cardoons are considered a delicacy in Italy, commonly used in soups, stews, salads and as a crudité for lemony Garlic dips. Cardoons should be started indoors 8 to 12 weeks before setting outside in your garden. They require warmth, strong light and a well-draining fertile spot. Three to five weeks before harvesting, blanche its heart by gathering up the outer leaf stalks, securing them with garden twine and covering the outer, bundled leaves with burlap or heavy paper. Appearing much like cloaked garden monsters for up to five weeks, Cardoons are harvested by cutting them off at their bases. Pull apart the fleshy stalks, clean them well and remove the bitter, spiny leaves as well as any stringy fibers running down the back of the stalk. Depending on how you are going to use them, you may want to rub them with a halved lemon to reduce discoloration or preboil them in salted water for two hours prior to use in cooked recipes. Perennial in hardiness zones 6-10, grow as an Annual in colder zones. Deer resistant.

Average seed life: 1 year.

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Gardening Tips

Cardoon Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4” -1/2”
Row Spacing:36”-48”
Plant Spacing:24”-36”
Days to Germination:7-14 days
Germination Temperature:60°-70°F

Related to Artichokes, Cardoons should be started indoors 10 weeks before setting out. Provide 60°- 70° F temperature, strong sunlight, ventilation and even moisture. Do not overwater. Once the seedlings are 3" tall and all danger of frost has passed, “harden them off” by gradually acclimating them to outdoor temperatures and sunlight for 7 to 10 days. Amend the soil with organic compost and well-rotted manure as needed. Cardoons require well-draining soil with strong sunlight, plenty of water and room to grow. They will grow 3' to 5' tall with spiky, feathery leaves. Four weeks before harvesting, blanch the heart by gathering up the outer leaf stalks with garden twine. Cover them with burlap to keep the lower 80% dark. Do not cover the leaf tips. To harvest a Cardoon, cut the plant off at the base and peel away the outer leaves to reveal the tender, blanched, fleshy stalks.

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

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