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Globe Artichoke

UK Garden Centre - Information about the Globe artichoke

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This handsome, thistle-like plant is more at home in the herbaceous border than on a small vegetable plot. It grows about 4ft (120cm) high, its arching silvery leaves providing an attractive foil for the bright floral display. The globe artichoke, however, must never be allowed to bloom – the ball-like heads are removed for cooking just before the fleshy scales open. Afussy plant in many ways, requiring good soil, regular watering and feeding plus frost protection in winter, but the reward is a gourmet’s delight. It will not last forever – plant rooted suckers each spring so that mature specimens can be disposed of after a few years.

Plant facts
Use offsets (rooted suckers) taken either from high-yielding plants in your own garden or bought from a garden centre. These offshoots should be about 9in (22cm) high and must have roots attached. Raising plants from seed is possible, but is not advisable.
Seed sowing technique: Sow thinly 1in (2.5cm) deep in drills 1ft (30cm) apart. Thin to 9in (22cm). Plant out in the following spring.
Productive life: 4 years.
Expected yield per mature plant: 10-12 heads.
Approximate time between planting and cutting: 1 ½ years.
Ease of cultivation: Not easy – requires space and regular attention.

Soil facts
· Light or loamy soil in a sunny, sheltered location is needed – it is a waste of time to grow this crop in heavy clay. Good drainage is essential.
· Dig the soil in autumn and incorporate a liberal amount of compost or well-rotted manure. Rake in Growmore fertilizer shortly before planting.

Planting
Plant 36in (90cm) apart each way, and 2in (5cm) deep. Plant firmly and remove tips of leaves. Water in thoroughly.

Calendar
Sowing time: Usually beginning of April; can extend from mid March to the end of April.
Planting time: Usually the end of April; can be the whole of the month.
Cutting time: Between July and September; less usually including the end of June and the beginning of October.

Looking after the crop
· Keep the plants well watered until established. Apply a mulch around the stems in May.
· During the summer months hoe regularly and apply a liquid fertilizer at fortnightly intervals. Water thoroughly when the weather is dry.
· In late autumn cut down the stems and cover the crowns with bracken, leaves or straw. Remove this protective covering in April.

Harvesting
· A few small heads will begin to form in the first year. Do not let them develop – cut off immediately and discard.
· Regular cropping begins in the season after planting. Remove the terminal bud (‘king head’) first. It should be large and swollen but still green and unopened. Leave 2-3in (5-7cm) of the stem attached.
· Feed the plants after this initial cropping. Later in the season remove and cook the smaller secondary heads.

Varieties
Green Globe: Large green heads – the variety you are most likely to find in the seed catalogues.
Purple Globe: Hardier than its green relative, but bottom of the ratings for flavour.
Vert De Laon: This is the one to buy as offsets from your garden centre. Highly recommended.
Camus De Bretagne: Large heads with an excellent flavour, but you will have to search for it. Not suitable for northern counties.

Troubles
Petal Blight
Aphid
Slugs


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