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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
NectorNook and I have agreed that a single thread comparing our experiments growing artichokes could be useful. There isn't much information about growing them on this board, at least not that I could find, and I'm not afraid of the search engine! We're using two different varieties, but our climates are similar. We're both zone 5 I believe, cold with a short growing season. Artichokes are a warm climate plant and in its native state, a perennial that won't bud until the second season. Human fiddling has changed that of course, and given us a variety that grows as an annual. NectarNook is growing the perennial, I'm growing the annual. So let the combined threat commence! :D:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
In my garden, I'm using the Imperial Star variety. This has been bred to grow as an annual for those colder climates with shorter growing seasons.

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According to my research, it still grows very slowly so I've gotten it started. It took one week for the seeds to germinate using the paper towel method. I just planted the germinated seeds into the seed starting mix today.

Since I've read that these will grow quite large (about four feet) I've decided to grow them in the VegTrug:

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Mine is the one meter container. I think those teeny seedlings are going to look silly for awhile but hey, the books all said the plants would get huge. I've also read that artichokes are heavy feeders so having them easily accessible on my deck will be the better option. Besides, if my rabbits decide to eat them after I had them cold-stratifying in my fridge for a week I would be really peeved, so having them on the deck will probably save lives too. I'll post a pic when the seedlings appear. :D:
 

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Rational Being
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This was a good idea. Artichokes are one of the great losses in today's modern supermarket. I can sometimes find tinned hearts, but I don't think I have seen an actual artichoke on the produce shelves since I was little.

I'm growing them because I have fond memories of my parents growing them when I was being raised in Alaska. They overwintered their roots in the crawlspace on wooden slat shelves, along with flower bulbs and many other things that winter kill in the cold north. As citykitty mentioned, I am growing the perennial. I plan on digging up the root ball each fall and replanting each spring.

The variety I am starting is called Violetta Precoce from Baker Creek, and is a purple phenotype. I started the seeds well over a month ago. They are about 3" high now and just starting to get the distinctive pointy leaves. In the next couple weeks, I will be setting the seedlings in the coldest corner of my basement to simulate a short "winter" season. This is because as a perennial artichoke, it won't put out flowers in its first year. By faking a winter season for a few weeks, I am hoping to bring my plants into their second growing season. If I don't get flowers to eat this year... there's always next year!


There are seven artichoke seedlings in this picture. They are to the right in the teal containers. (Ignore the single pepper that is also in a teal container to the left of the artichokes.)

My seedlings took about three days to come up through the soil. I had 11/12 seedlings come up, but four didn't pass my stringent healthy-seedling test and were chucked into the waste bin. I don't have time for coddling nature's rejects. I was only hoping for four, so seven is still better than expected. I will only save four root balls for replanting, depending on their conditions at the end of the summer.

Good idea on this thread, citykitty! I can't wait to see how they do this summer!
 

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Semper Fi
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nice. I did imp star in Arizona. small spiny feral inedible... its a hybrid of green globe. id like to try violetto. or tlc nurse them. gophers ate the whole planting
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I have sprouts! Of eight germinated seeds only four seedlings have appeared but it's a start. These appear to be very slow growers too. I potted these seeds this past weekend and seedlings just appeared yesterday.

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I have been misting all of my seedlings with water containing some MiracleGro. I was shocked last year to learn how little nutrient there is in potting soil. I'd like to think that seed starting mix is better but without testing it I can't say for sure. So, a little food in the mist can't be a bad thing. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's why I'm growing Imperial Star. It's bred to produce the first year. My partner in crime is growing a different variety. She'll have to do some extra work to trick the plants into producing the first year but from what I've read, it CAN be done! :D:
 

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Rational Being
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Picture of my artichoke seedlings from just a few minutes ago. They are 3-6" high, reaching for the shop lights with everything they have in them. In a few days, they will find a new home in a dark, cool corner of the basement to simulate a fake winter for a few weeks.
 

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Rational Being
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The variety I am growing, Violetta precoce, is a perennial that doesn't bloom until its second year. In order to get blooms during the first year, many gardeners have had success starting their seeds several weeks early, then putting their young plants through a simulated winter in a cool place. My basement stays around 50 degrees in the winter, so I think it will be a good place to put them. This plant being a plant that doesn't tolerate very cold winters well, I'm hoping 50 degrees is cold enough. Maybe for the sake of experimentation I will toss a couple into the refrigerator as well.

This fake winter will last 4-5 weeks, then I will bring them back to the warm living room or directly outside to begin hardening them off if it is warm enough by then.

If I am unable to confuse the plants, then they'll still grow in the garden to their full height - I just won't get anything edible from them this year. In the fall, I will dig up the root balls and store them in a dark, cool corner of the basement for the winter. Next spring I will replant them as soon as the soil is workable.

This is all one grand experiment. Most people who grow artichokes live in a warmer climate and don't have to jump through all these hoops. I've heard many success stories with the fake winters sending the plant into flower production one season early, so we'll see if it's true.

Hence, the title of the thread. Experiment. :)
 

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I have control issues
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I grow Green Globe artichokes here in SE Arizona. I started with one plant, then planted a second. Last year, I got 25 artichokes off of the first plant, and 5 off of the second one. This year, I divided the first artichoke plant, and got 6 divisions from it. THey are all growing, and the "mother" plant is just as big as it was LAST year.

The artichokes have a much different growing cycle here...they do their big "flush" of growth in the spring and produce "chokes" in April/May, like normal. Then, they die down for the summer. In the fall, they begin to regrow, but stay small, and stay that way throughout winter, then do the big growth spurt in spring like normal. It's a little different, but it works.
 

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stubborn old broad
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I grew Imperial Star every year in Washington State, in both the western and eastern sides. Grows great as an annual but limited 'chokes.

You can "perennial-ize" Imperial Star by cutting the (very large) plant back to about a foot tall- cover with clean straw and put a large wooden box or garbage can over the top of the plant/straw.

It will come through surprisingly low temperatures this way, and if you can get a second or third year out of it the artichoke production is huge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have some nice progress to report. I have seven lovely artichoke plants developing their big kid leaves.

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I've moved my heat mat directly under these since they love warmth (or so I've read) and the other seedlings are more cold-tolerant and don't need the extra heat at this point.

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These seedlings are perhaps two weeks old. Getting closer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There's not much to show today but since I'm here updating my other thread I thought I would show my seedlings. They seem to be coming along nicely.

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The VegTrug is ready for them even though I can't plant them for probably another month. Usually around here Mother's Day is considered safe for frost-sensitive plants and that's May 13 this year. However, I had some soil delivered for the new raised bed so I filled my pots too. The liner this year is a simple bed sheet, $5 delivered. This is better than $12.95 plus $3.99 delivery for an official VegTrug Liner.

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Talk to you soon!
 

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I have one artichoke plant in my garden. I forget the exact variety, but it is a perennial in its second year. The first year, I harvested 8 artichokes off of the plant! It grew to about 5 feet tall, and 2-3 feet across. Once the weather started warming up this spring, I cut the old stock down to ground level. With no further care, I already have 2 new stalks coming up, and the plant is about 1 foot high and 2 feet across. Cannot wait to see how it fairs for the rest of the season!
I'm going to save a couple flowers this year to see if I can harvest seeds and plant more. Everything I read told me you couldn't grow artichokes in the Pacific Northwest (too cool, too damp, too north, etc, etc). I planted right next to a very large, dark green, south facing wall that gets about 10-12 hours of full sun each day in the summer, and my 'choke seems to love it!
Only complaint is the minimal edible flesh that we got. Not sure if that is due to the variety, or possibly not enough water. Maybe the second year will produce heartier ... hearts?
 

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Wrong Side of Heaven
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Green globes Ca zone 9 planted 4 years ago.
They never die completely back, during the winter the dead is trimmed back to the soil, and a few weeks later and all through the winter I have soccer ball sized green just waiting for the heat. Then early spring they take off. Right now they are over 6 feet tall, and I harvested the first chokes last week around 4/7. Every year production starts a bit earlier in the season.
Some pics from two years ago earlier thread.
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showpost.php?p=4139100&postcount=28

The original thread
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=234005
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I found that thread while I was looking for information on growing these! Thanks for posting it here. It also includes some great recipes. I'd never eaten them any way other than steamed with butter before. I'll have to fix that this year :D:

I'm hardening my other plants out for the Great Outdoors over the next few days, so my artichoke seedlings have the grow bulbs and heat mat to themselves at least part of the day.

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They seem to be doing well and since it's nowhere near time to plant them outdoors I'm not ready to chance them outside just yet. Granted it's supposed to be in the 60s here for the next couple of days but these are a Southern plant. I would think that the 60s is a bit chilly for them yet. No worries it'll get into the 80s soon enough. I hope. :D:

Happy Easter/Passover everyone!
 

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Wrong Side of Heaven
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What a difference climate zones make, I have picked three times so far and will probably pick again in the next day or two. I figure I only have about 2-3 more weeks at most before they are done for this season and get cut back. Good luck with your planting, your best production will probably be in your second and third years. With 6 plants expect 20 plus chokes a week.
 
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