The general store in Francestown, NH once never sold pork – not for any Biblical reasons; the owners simply didn’t like pork and so wouldn’t sell it. I’m that way with artichokes. They’re nifty-looking plants, but did you ever have a craving for an artichoke the way you might for sweet corn or a home-grown tomato? Me neither.
However, there are some crazed Goddesses out there who must be appeased, such as the one who helped me set up this blog, so here’s the deal:
Artichokes are by nature a perennial which offers only leaves the first year. The second year it offers you artichokes, which are unopened flower buds. Up North, the plants won’t survive the winter, so until recently you had to fool them, by warming and chilling, into thinking they’re in the second year. That’s still partly true, but now there is a variety called Imperial Star (and maybe others) that produces the first year. BUT, you must plant seeds indoors, ideally in a place that’s warm by day (60-70F) by day and cool by night (50-60F), (sounds like the bathroom) then transplant 8-week-old seedlings outside so the plants get at least 8 to 10 days of temps about 50F without freezing. Tricky, but possible.
Regardless, it can be a fun exercise, if only because the plants are statements in their own right. So, once you get artichokes, check a recipe book and dip the meaty ends of the inner leaves in butter (after boiling) and munch away. It truly is a pleasure, and just imagine that you grew these from seed. It’s reason enough to have friends over, just to say, “Oh those. We grew them.”