Beautiful, huge, spiky leaves protect a real treasure for true, old fashioned eating pleasure. There is nothing quite like sitting around a table as a family or group of friends with these tasty blooms on your plate. Really simple to prepare: boil until tender, drain well, remove each bract (petal) individually, dip the stem end in butter or garlic butter and bite off the tender swollen flesh at the base. The bases become larger towards the center. Once you reach the center, beware the choke…remove the fibrous choke to get to the best part, the delicious and tender heart.
Harvest the immature flower buds before they open for the most tender blooms. Harvest the center bud first, as this will encourage the plant to produce more side buds. If you leave the buds too long and they begin opening, they will become tough and inedible.
Perennials in zones 7-11 with their milder winters, it is also possible to achieve good harvests grown as annuals in colder zones (zones 3-6). Artichokes are a long season crop, requiring 100 frost free days to produce their magnificent bounty. Green Globe is the shortest growing variety and best suited for a shorter growing season.
As perennials, they can produce well for 5 years, so be sure to enrich and prepare the soil for them with this in mind. When over-wintering, mulch heavily to protect the roots from the cold, ensuring a faster bounce back in spring.
Artichoke plants can get to over 4’ tall and 3-4’ in diameter, so allow plenty of room for growth.