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.
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
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.
· 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
· Dig the soil in autumn and incorporate
a liberal amount of compost or well-rotted manure.
Rake in Growmore fertilizer shortly before planting.
Plant 36in (90cm) apart each way, and 2in (5cm)
deep. Plant firmly and remove tips of leaves.
Water in thoroughly.
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
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.
· 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
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.