Artichoke

Cynaria scolymus

Artichoke is a close relative of the thistle that is grown for its fleshy flower buds, though the whole plant is edible. Cardoons are a very closely related plant grown for their tasty stalks. Artichokes are perennial and hardy to zone 6. Provide winter protection elsewhere or grow as an annual if you've got a long enough growing season of about 120 days (starting indoors will help).

Artichoke is a Perennial plant that grows best in zones 7 through 10
Light requirements: full sun 
Soil Requirements: rich
Moisture requirements: moderately moist

Flowers

Purple, but harvest before they open

appear in the Fall

Fruit

Harvest is the flower buds

appear in the Fall.

Artichoke is best planted in the Spring for a Fall harvest

Artichoke is drought tolerant.
Artichoke is not shade tolerant

Growing Artichoke

Soak seeds in warm water for 12 hours, then sow indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost date for your area or direct sow outdoors after the soil has warmed. Germination is often slow and may take up to 8 weeks. Keep moist until plants have germinated. Artichokes can also be grown from root divisions and many gardeners find this to be the best way to go.

If you do not have winter frosts, plant artichokes at the end of your warmest season to allow artichokes to mature during the cooler weather.

If you are subject to hard frosts and temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to grow the plant as an annual, or in a container that can be brought inside, or provide winter protection.

To encourage production as an annual crop in cooler areas, begin "hardening off" your starts by taking them outside on frost-free days for about 3 weeks. Place in a cold frame as needed or bring indoors whenever the temperatures dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant outdoors after the last frost date has passed.

Plant 2 to 3 feet apart in the garden. They like a sunny position and light, fertile, well-drained soil. Needs 8 hours or more of sunlight.

Artichokes are heavy feeders. Sidedress with composted manure every spring and every three weeks during the growing season.

Established plants can handle some drought, but it will affect the quality of the "fruit" so make sure to water well as buds begin to develop. Do not allow the roots to sit in water though, as this will kill them.

Harvest before the flower buds open. Use a sharp knife to cut the main, center bud first, leaving about 3 inches of stalk on the bud. Cutting the center bud first will encourage side buds.

In mild areas, cut the stalk back and you may get a second harvest. At the end of the season, cut the plants back to just a few inches and mulch well with straw. Temperatures below 15 degrees Farenheight can kill the plant, so additional winter protection is required in many areas. Remove the mulch in the spring to allow the plant to grow.

Artichokes stands should be divided every 3 to 5 years to keep them healthy.

Companions

Artichokes are aggressive and weedy and may outshade other plants. But they are thorny and bushy and can make a nice barrier between more tender plants and larger animals that may wish to eat them. Sunflowers can grow along artichokes pretty happily.

Incompatible Plants

Potential Pests and Diseases

artichoke plume moth larva may damage the artichoke bud
Slugs and snails may attack leaves and stems.
Curley dwarf disease causes curling leaves, stunted growth, misshapen buds and plant death. Affected plants should be removed and destroyed.
Botrytis blight- A fungus that can be spread by insects and encouraged by humid conditions. Appears as a grey-brown coating. Affected plants should be removed and destroyed.
Earwigs - Nibble on leaves but don't tend to cause real damage unless the infestation is heavy. Use hot pepper spray and earwig traps.

Uses for Artichoke

Buds are eaten, especially good steamed and dipped in butter. Leaves can be cooked like spinach, but are thorny. Tea of the leaves said to aid in lowering cholesterol. Roots can be cooked as a root vegetable, stalks like celery. If allowed to bloom, the flower is beautiful and can be used in arrangements. The dried flower can be used as a vegetable rennet(so I am told, I have not tried this)

Artichoke Folklore

Artichokes were eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were brought to the US by the Spanish invaders.

Artichoke is a tough, spiny Mars plant that is useful for general protection. Grown in the garden near the home, it helps break up any negative energy coming your way, especially any that would interfere with the energy of fertility and abundance.

Artichoke shared by a couple hoping to conceive is said to increase their chances. It is a romantic food to share and has a reputation for enhancing the male libido and increasing sperm count.

Magickal Correspondences for Artichoke
Element(s): Fire -
Planet(s): Mars -
Season:
Sabbat:
Deities:
Zodiac Signs:
Gender: male

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