How to Grow Artichokes in Your Backyard

How to Grow Artichokes in Your Backyard

How to Grow Artichokes in Your Backyard

Growing artichokes can be a fun and rewarding experience for any gardener. With some planning and care, you can have a bountiful artichoke harvest right in your own backyard. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to successfully grow artichokes at home.

Selecting the Right Variety

There are many varieties of artichokes to choose from. The two main types are:

  • Globe artichokes – These are the most common for backyard growing. Some popular varieties are Green Globe, Imperial Star, and Violetto. They have large, tasty flower buds.

  • Baby artichokes – These produce smaller buds and are a bit easier to grow. Examples are Emerald, Opera, and Symphony.

Some key factors when selecting an artichoke variety:

  • Climate – Check your USDA Hardiness Zone and choose a variety suited for your region. Most artichokes grow best in Zones 7-10.

  • Size – Standard globe varieties can grow over 5 feet tall and wide. Baby and compact types only reach 3-4 feet. Consider your available space.

  • Harvest time – Varieties differ in maturity time. Pick early, mid, and late season types to extend your harvest.

  • Flavour – Taste and texture varies. Sample different kinds to find your favourites.

Starting Artichoke Plants

Artichokes can be grown from seeds or transplants. Starting from transplants is recommended as it’s faster and more reliable. Here’s how to start plants:

  • Seeds – Sow indoors 8-12 weeks before your last expected frost. Transplant outside after danger of frost.

  • Transplants – Purchase dormant bare root or potted plants. Plant them 4-6 weeks before your last frost date.

  • Timing – For a fall crop, start seeds in early summer and transplant in late summer.

  • Soil – Use a lightweight potting mix for starting seeds. Repot transplants into larger containers.

Give seedlings plenty of light and water. Harden off plants before transplanting.

Planting Your Artichoke Crop

Here are some tips for successfully planting your artichoke crop:

  • Sunlight – Artichokes need full sun. Choose a spot that gets 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

  • Soil – They thrive in fertile, well-drained soil amended with compost. Mix in organic material if needed.

  • Spacing – Space standard globe plants 3-4 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart. Baby artichokes can be 2 feet apart.

  • Depth – Set transplants at the same soil depth as their containers. Bury bare root crowns halfway up their stems.

  • Timing – Transplant in early spring 2-4 weeks before your last expected frost.

  • Watering – Water transplants daily for 1-2 weeks until established. Provide 1-2 inches of water per week.

Caring for Your Plants

With proper care, your artichoke plants will reward you with delicious yields:

  • Fertilizer – Apply aged compost and a balanced organic fertilizer monthly during the growing season.

  • Weeding – Use mulch to prevent weeds. Hand pull any weeds to prevent competition for nutrients.

  • Pests – Watch for aphids, slugs, snails, and birds. Use organic methods of control if needed.

  • Winter – In cold climates, cut back plants after harvest and heavily mulch roots to overwinter.

  • Support – Use stakes to support heavy heads and prevent falling over.

Harvesting and Storing Artichokes

  • Timing – For globe varieties, harvest flower heads when tight, compact, and deep green. Baby artichokes can be picked smaller.

  • Cutting – Use a sharp knife to cut the stem 1-2 inches below the bud. Do not remove outer petals.

  • Harvest period – You can harvest from one plant over several weeks as buds mature.

  • Storage – Eat fresh as soon as possible. Refrigerate unwashed up to 2 weeks in plastic bags.

  • Overwintering – In warm climates, you can overwinter plants for early spring harvest. Protect from hard freezes.

With the right care, your backyard artichokes will provide you with a lovely landscape plant and delicious edible buds to enjoy all season long. Pay attention to variety selection, planting, maintenance and harvesting for success growing artichokes at home.