How to Grow Artichokes

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Cynara scolymus

In the 1500s, artichokes were considered an aphrodisiac, and only men were allowed to partake. Seriously. So go ahead—celebrate your freedom to savor artichoke-spinach dip.

Hardiness: Grown as a hardy perennial in Zones 8 and 9; newer varieties can be grown as annuals in some colder regions.

Planting advice: Plant root divisions 6 inches deep and 3 to 4 feet apart in fertile, well-draining soil, with the tops above ground. Leave 4 to 5 feet between rows; the plants will grow 6 feet in diameter and 3 or 4 feet tall.

An average artichoke produces 40 or so buds, but a medium-to-large bud yields only about 2 ounces of edible flesh. So plan accordingly when planting.

Harvest tips: When the largest artichoke is 2 to 4 inches in diameter, cut off the buds, including 1-1/2 inches of the stem. After harvest, cut off stalks at ground level. To store, slice off a coin's-width of stem, sprinkle with water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Use within five to seven days.

Recommendations: Big Heart, Desert Globe, Green Globe, Imperial Star.

Source: Birds & Blooms "Grow Veggies for Less"