Artichokes & Cardoon
60 days. Although cardoon is relatively unfamiliar in American cuisine, it's been relished in the Mediterranean for centuries. Grown for its thick, fleshy stalks, it has a mild flavor reminiscent of artichoke hearts that lends itself to boundless culinary opportunities. Braised and topped with a cheese sauce, slow-cooked in a stew, or cut into sticks and deep-fried, this extraordinary vegetable can integrate into any meal. Typically growing to about 42 inches tall, these artichoke relatives will perennialize in zones 7 and warmer, producing for 6-7 years and reaching a final height of 6-8 feet.
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|Seed Depth||Seed Spacing||Soil Temp for Germ.||Days to Germ.||Thin Plants To||Approximately 15-20 seeds per gram.|
Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus: The flower buds of the artichoke are the harvested part of the plant. Artichokes are reported to contain the highest level of antioxidants of all vegetables!
C. cardunculus: Cardoon is a relative of the artichoke. Instead of consuming the flower as with artichokes, the fleshy leaf stems are eaten.
CULTURE: Artichokes and cardoon appreciate conditions that foster rapid growth. Start indoors in late January or early February; sow seeds in 4 inch pots filled with sterile seedling mix. Sow heavily and expect 70% germination. Of these seedlings, about 20% will not produce high quality plants. Cull out the small and albino plants. Fertilize transplants with a good all purpose liquid fertilizer such as Earth Juice Grow 2-1-1. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed, but when the seedlings can still receive 10-12 days of temperatures under 50°F, which induces earlier budding. The period of cool temperatures needed to stimulate growth and flowering varies with location and variety. Space transplants 3 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart. Work in 1 cup of our complete fertilizer or a shovelful of composted chicken manure per plant.
After the first year's harvest, remove off-types and less vigorous plants leaving a final spacing of 5-6 feet between plants. In late October, cut plants to about 8-10 inches above ground and cover with straw or leaves to keep the stump from freezing. Uncover in early April. Overwinter survival is likely but not certain. Regrowth will be offshoots of the parent plants.
DISEASE: Relatively disease-free.
HARVEST: Cut flowers before they start to open. The smaller, immature artichokes are the most tender. Rub the cut 'chokes with a slice of lemon to prevent discoloration. Cardoon can be harvested green or blanched white by wrapping the young stalks with newspaper or piling straw around the plants for 30 days prior to harvest. Store at 36°F and 100% relative humidity.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 70%. Usual seed life: 1 year.