This delicacy has been prized by gourmands for decades and fetches top prices at supermarkets. In warmer climates, though, it grows like a weed (in fact, in Mediterranean regions it is a weed, growing wild in hot, dry spots). Best of all, when you grow your own, you can harvest while the bracts are still small and extremely tender.
The edible parts of this relative of the thistle are actually flower buds. Steam or boil the green bracts ("leaves" enclosing the flower bud), and scoop out the fleshy inner side of each bract. The most highly desired part of the vegetable is the heart, positioned at the base of the bracts, below the hairy center. In Zones 8-10, set out transplants in fall. In all other areas, sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost, and move plants outdoors early enough to receive at least 10 days of temperatures above freezing but below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. (Plants must be exposed to cold in order to bloom.)
- Plant Type:
- Plant Height:
- 4-5 feet tall
- Plant Width:
- 5-6 feet wide
- Special Features:
- Attractive Foliage
Harvest the immature flower bud before it opens. Cut the stem of each bud 1-2 inches below the bud base. In Zones 8-10, plants will produce a main crop in spring, but continue producing all season long, with a secondary peak in fall. Where artichokes are grown as an annual, harvest buds from midsummer through fall.
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