Gardening

How to plant artichoke

Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus – formerly called Cynara scolymus

Artichoke is a cultivated plant that originated from wild thistle, originally from the Mediterranean region, having been selected for the production of large inflorescences. These have a receptacle (the heart of the artichoke) and several flesh-based bracts, which are usually eaten cooked, but which can also be eaten raw.

This plant reaches 1 to 2 m in height, with 1 m in diameter or more. The floral chapters are usually 6 to 15 cm in diameter.

Climate

Artichokes can be grown within the temperature range of 5 ° C to 30 ° C or more, but grow best at average temperatures of 12 ° C to 22 ° C. A period of low temperatures is necessary to induce flowering, with the ideal regions for growing artichokes having a moderately cold winter and a moderately hot summer.

The plant generally only supports light frosts. On the other hand, when the climate is very hot and dry, the floral chapters are of low quality and tend to open early.

Brightness

The artichoke needs direct sunlight for at least a few hours daily.

Ground

Cultivate in well-drained, deep, fertile soil rich in organic matter. Artichokes do not grow well in very acidic soils, the ideal range being the pH range of 6 to 8.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil moist, without remaining soggy. This plant is drought resistant, but does not produce well when water is lacking.

Planting

The most recommended method of planting the artichoke is by dividing adult plants. The shoots appear after the harvest time, and must be removed carefully, digging around the plant and separating them from the parent plant with a knife or shovel. Shoots must be well developed and must be removed with roots. The developed leaves are cut and these seedlings can then be planted with the spacing indicated for the cultivar.

The seeds can be sown in the final place or in small pots, plastic bags suitable for seedlings or cups made of newsprint 5 cm in diameter and 10 cm high, and then transplanted three or four weeks after germination.

The problem with planting with seeds is that plants originating from seeds are generally not similar to the mother plant, presenting a great variation in size, shape of the plant and flowers, number of thorns, and other characteristics, that is, a great phenotypic variation. This method of propagation is used mainly by those who want to obtain new cultivars, and by those who cannot obtain seedlings to start their artichoke planting. In this case, plant the seeds and after two or three years select the best plants and start multiplying them by the division method.

Cultivation

Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources, especially in the first months of cultivation.

If shoots are not necessary to obtain seedlings, eliminate them as soon as they appear, to keep the plant vigorous and more productive.

Harvest

The artichoke flower chapters are harvested when the bracts are still closed. When the bracts are opened, the artichoke loses its quality and may already be fibrous.

The plants may produce few flowers (or no flowers) in the first year. Artichokes are a perennial plant and can produce for six years or more, but horticulturists usually replace plants every three years, as production tends to decrease in number and quality from the third year.

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