Artichokes are just unusual enough that you may not have thought about planting them in your home garden.
Artichokes are just unusual enough that you may not have thought about planting them in your home garden. These members of the thistle family are native to the Mediterranean and require cool nights and warm days. Plant globe artichokes starting in early spring.
Globe artichokes are perennial plants, so you can transplant in the fall or transplant roots or plants in early spring. If you are expecting cold temperatures for a while, cover the roots with a straw mulch. If you plant from a gallon container in early spring, you will have a small artichoke harvest in summer.
Plant globe artichoke plants in an eastern location so they receive some afternoon shade. Space plants 3 to 4 feet apart; they grow tall and can become several feet wide. They like nutrient-rich soil, so use plenty of compost and avoid planting them in a location that hosted heavy soil feeders, like cabbage, corn or tomatoes, in the past couple years. Water deeply, providing 2 to 3 feet of water when the top inch of soil is dry.
Once artichokes appear in spring, harvest often. Cut them from the plant when they are about the size of a softball and the leaves are closed tightly. Keep an eye on the buds. If the flowers open, the plant will stop producing. Heat makes the flowers open faster, and the quality of artichokes remaining on the plant suffers. Once the plant starts flowering, let it grow.
When it starts to die back later in the season, cut off about 90 percent of the plant, leaving a stem stub sticking out of the ground. Mulch the area and water infrequently. The globe artichoke plant will continue to produce for several seasons.