This Mediterranean native had a long history in Europe before an introduction to North America, first to Louisiana and then to California in the 19th century. Since the 1920’s, Monterey County has produced the entire US crop, except, of course, what we grow in our own mild-climate food gardens.
- Grow this cool-weather perennial as an annual from seed or bareroot in hot inland climates or as a perennial in mild climates with protection from severe, prolonged frosts.
- Expect dormancy in summer after production halts in spring. Heavy mulch protects roots from winter freeze damage in cold microclimates.
- Plant in full sun or partial summer shade in moist soil amended with compost to provide good drainage. Regular doses of nitrogen fertilizer such as fish emulsion support growth.
- Consider planting this 3-5 ft. wide and high vegetable as a sculptural element in an amended ornamental garden to economize on space in the food garden.
- Control aphids, snails & slugs, or earwigs that may appear under the edible bud scales by hand-picking or applying a shot of water or insecticidal soap.
- Plant seeds, transplants, or root divisions from fall through early spring. Small buds may be produced in 3-4 months.
- Keep soil moist; irrigate in the absence of rains.
- Expect to harvest 3-10 artichokes in late winter to early spring the 2nd year in the ground. Light frosts may sweeten taste. Buds at the top of stalks are the largest.
- Harvest firm artichokes with a sharp knife or pruners before scales begin to open, leaving a short stem attached.
- Summer heat ends the harvest, toughens bud scales (the edible parts), and initiates flowering.
- Cut back foliage and stems to the ground after fruiting and cover with mulch to initiate summer dormancy, or allow ornamental flower buds to form.
- Withhold irrigation during summer dormancy; resume in early fall.
- Stimulate a light crop in fall by working compost into the soil around plants as growth resumes in cool weather.
- ‘Green Globe’ and ‘Green Globe Improved’ varieties are most common and are considered the hardiest varieties.
- ‘Imperial Star’ is often grown as an annual but will overwinter when protected. Buds are mostly large and spineless.
- ‘Violetto di Romagna’ from Italy develops dark violet buds that turn green with soft spines when cooked. Sometimes considered the most flavorful.
- Sonoma County Master Gardener Vegetable Planting Summary.