|Artichokes are viewed by many as a delicacy, but if your climate is amenable, these tasty treats are perennials that can produce copious blooms for up to 5 years from a single plant and save you tons of money.
The biggest obstacle standing in the way of those who want to learn how to grow artichokes in the urban garden is space, because the established plants need a lot of it.
How to Grow Artichokes from Seed
For spring planting, start artichoke seeds indoors about 12 weeks before the last frost date. Do not transplant until hard frost danger is past, but light frost will encourage flowering, so if possible harden the plants outdoors in a hoop house or cold frame. If you plant them too late in the season they will not flower.
How to Grow Artichokes from Seedlings
When planting artichoke seedlings, you should space them 4 feet apart in preparation for the tremendous space that these established plants will need. In Zones 6 and lower you can get away with planting artichokes closer together because the cooler temperatures will keep the plant size in check.
When preparing the soil for artichokes, it is important that the soil is well amended and very light. It must be such that it will remain light and moist throughout the season because both drought and standing water can do damage to the artichoke plant.
I like to fertilize my artichokes with a potash fertilizer during the active growing season for extra growth and flowering.
Since they are blooms, it is sometimes hard to know exactly when to harvest artichokes, but a good rule of thumb is to harvest when the buds mature but just before the brachts (bud leaves) begin to open. If you leave them to flower you will be rewarded with a gorgeous purple bloom that dries well and looks great in arrangements.