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artichoke question

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

I planted an artichoke from a 6" pot last summer, and kept it protected from the weather all winter, so that this spring it is about 4 feet wide, and looking healthy. I have been waiting for the first sign of a flower bud. My DH was in the garden a few days ago, looked deep down into the plant, and pointed out a post-flower artichoke growing down in the middle of the leaves! I've found another one on the plant, so I'm wondering, what am I doing wrong, or is it some different type that grows this way? The 'fruit' feels soft, not firm, will it fill out?
Thanks,
Julia

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Since nobody has answered your question I'll give it a shot. Do you know what type it was? They usually don't produce their first year because they need a certain amount of chill time to flower. I don't know what your zone is but Castorville CA is the Artichoke capital so that area has the best artichoke climate.

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

I'm at 4000 feet, and we get some nights in the high 20's, low 30's, which is great for my apricot tree, and apparently enough for the artichoke. In the last week it's obviously grown and is going to be a nice size, I'm just surprised that it grew no stem at all. The artichoke is down in the heart of the plant, nestled in the leaves. As for what type, I lost the label from the 4" pot long ago, so that's a mystery.
Thank you for your try:>)

I plan to post a pic one of these days, to see if anyone else recognizes the type,

Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

It should grow a stem. Just give it time. That's how they look as they first start to form. All of these are from 2007. First pic is the first bud forming down inside the leaves in July 11. Second pic is August 28. Third pic, I don't know the date, but if you want to eat them, you don't want to let it get to that point! Bees love it however. My biggest problem growing artichokes was judging when to pick. I tended to wait too long and then they would be tough. I wanted to grow them again this year, but didn't start seeds early enough. So maybe next year.

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Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Thank you! That makes sense now:>) I had it backwards....the 'fruit' AFTER the flower! Duh! So I don't even have to worry about it being edible until it's in the air. Cool.
Thanks again,
Julia

Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

Julia, with artichoke you are eating a flower bud. Don't let it get too big. The first bud comes up from the center of the plant, that's your little bud nestled down in the leaves. That is usually the largest. All the others will be on the sides and smaller. Sort of like broccoli has a large central head and then you get side shoots after that. This pic shows the main bud and then smaller one below. You want to pick it when it is nice and tight. Don't let those petals spread or it may be too tough, eatin' wise that is. Nothing wrong with growing them for flowers. They are pretty.

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Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Good Im glad you got an answer. I didnt realize it was that cool in your area, I think every place is like TX. lol Know we all know. Good luck

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Thank you both for the help. I hope there really are no 'stupid' questions, or I'm in trouble! Those are beautiful pics. Yes, I already have another bud coming up :>)
Loving this weather!
Julia

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

There are no stupid questions, ever, : ). I'm originally from SoCal so I'll have to look up Anza.

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

It got it's name from De Anza- he came up Coyote Canyon from the south, through the high valley we live in, and went down Bautista Canyon and into what would later be Hemet. Still very rural, despite that horrible housing boom just before the crash.
What part of SoCal are you from?

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

If you think about it, the "choke" inside is the flower-to-be :)

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

And now it's growing up out of the plant, and starting to look like it's supposed to:>)

Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So exciting. I should have grown some this year. I will say, I got the most questions/comments about my artichoke plants. Keep us posted how it goes.

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

I will, and soon I'll have a pic to post.
I can already count 4 'chokes' :>)

Vista, CA

I have a good crop of artichokes this year but there is something very different about a few of them. The buds are not closed tight and pointed. They are flat topped and open, they are not so old that they opened from maturity, they have been like this since they were small.

I cut a couple open, and the choke inside looked normal, but being open like this, the ants have gone in and created a black area in the middle of it. We are cooking one that the ants did not enter tonight to see what it looks like cooked

Has anyone else had them look like this?

Ernie

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Tah-Dah!

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Vista, CA

Anza,

I know just how you feel. My original plant had the one big one last year, and as it developes side shoots, it will have more smaller ones on each center stalk. I had frost here last year that damaged tropicals but did not hurt the Artichoke, but do not know how much freeze they can stand. If freeze does kill the top, protect the roots and i am sure it will come back again next year, even more prolific than this year. I have not counted all of them, but i have several plants now.

Ernie

Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

Very nice Mountaindweller! "Tah-dah!" is exactly what that artichoke is saying sitting atop the plant. What is that, red leaf lettuce in the lower right corner? Looks pretty together.

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Erniecopp-We are at 4200 ft, and got several frosts here, and like you said, it came through just fine. Hopefully high 20's is the worst we'll get. I honestly have only eaten artichoke (not in a dip) once, so hopefully I can keep up with what this plant is giving me!

Jenhillphoto- Yes, it's red lettuce-I went out and got the tag, it's Rouge De Hiver. And I'll never plant that much lettuce again! I thought I was a salad eater, but I guess I'm more of a garden grazer! Of course, with enough salad dressing I could eat it all, but that would kind of defeat the point!

Vista, CA

Anza,

I like the artichokes okay, but the chokes are not very big, and it takes time and trouble nipping off that little bit from each leaf, but I think the plants are so beautiful, i would raise them just for looks. We just learned that the small ones cook much much faster thant the large and mediums, so we will cook them separately.

Ernie

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Ernie-I'm with you, too much work! Lol sometimes I'll buy the fresh ones and cut out the heart and eat that or buy the hearts in a jar. They are pretty plants and I envy the people that have the patience to eat them. Have you grown Cardoon?

Vista, CA

Lisa,
I do not recall ever seeing the name or hearing a reference to Cardoon until i started watching this blog, and Mark told me what it was. He also said that people just eat the fronds, and it was not very good. That is all i know about that.

I do eat and enjoy the Artichokes but only as an appetizer. I do not think they would make a very good meal.

Ernie

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I've never tried them but I know the plants sell because I've grown the starter plants. You might like how the taste, but the plants are pretty regardless. The root system is extensive so if you plant them you need to be sure that's where you really want them. Lol

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

So, now I just need to be careful that I don't let it get too mature. Any clues to just the right moment to cut them, not too early, not too late? I think too late would be when I see the purple interior.

Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

Too late is waaay before you see the purple interior. I don't think it's ever too early to eat. Once the leaves/petals start loosening up, they get tough for eating. Sorry I don't have a better answer. Mine never got as big as ones I get from the grocery. So I waited too long and ended up with tough chokes. I don't understand anyone that would say it's too much trouble to eat them. (shrug) More for me I guess!

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Hmm, maybe I'll pick it for Mother's Day! If they are edible from the start, I can get an idea of what stage I prefer.

Vista, CA

They are edible when too young but not enough flesh on the petals to make them worthwhile. Watch them closely and the minute they the petals start to open at the tip, harvest them and if you observe closely how they are then, you can pick a little bit earlier. This is only my second year so i am still learning. It is best to use a pressure cooker as boiling in open pans take far too long, but recipes give cooking times for the size you buy at the market, so reduce that time a lot for small ones like you may have to harvest at home. Overcooking makes artichoke mush which is pretty horrible stuff.

ernie

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Ernie, I'll give that a try. Pressure cookers are a new thing for me too-I have only used mine once, to can home made chicken soup. So it's all a learning experience! I have to say that if I continue to grow artichokes I'll have to create some new garden space. That plant is huge!

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

I love baby artichokes (which also include secondary buds)

this may help;

http://www.oceanmist.com/products/how-to-prepare/preparing-ocean-mist-farms-baby-artichokes.aspx

Vista, CA

Anza,

I have had to cut the lower fronds from mine to keep the ground dry to avoid slugs, and to be able tos watch for gopher hills, so mine are not nearly as big as they were before, but i think they are the prettiest plant in the garden, along with asparagus ferns.

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

That's a great link! Thanks catmad.

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Mine are in large containers, in an enclosed wire frame, to keep everything safe from cats, birds, and other critters, but their size makes them overshadow the other containers. Do gophers seem to really like them?
Here's a pic of where they are now. The pics is about a month old, so you can barely see the artichoke on the left, next to the trellis that is now covered with blackberries :>)

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Vista, CA

Anza,

You have a very nice setup there. With yours being in containers, i do not know how or if, you will get the sprouts from the roots that i do in the ground, but some come up right at the base of the plant, and some come up a couple of feet away. I have to google up more info on the life cycle, but i think each plant only lives a couple or a few years, and then replaces itself. I noticed one today that has had artichokes taken from it that seems to be looking different, like it may be nearing the end of its cycle.

And Yes, gophers seem to dearly love the roots of the plants. I was amazed that a tiny animal the size of a gopher could EAT its way completely through the trunk of the Artichoke that was thicker than the length of the animal. A comparison would be a Beaver chewing down a 3 foot Cottonwood, and eating every bite of the wood it chewed off.

I am temporarily gopher free, having waged a successful war, but my neighbors have given up fighting them, so more will move in, i am sure.

I did not take any pictures of mine when they were in the full glory, before i whacked off the lower fronds. The next time they look like that i will take a picture and have it framed. lol.

Ernie

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

I might try trimming up the ends of the leaves, sort of like a hedge, to have the best of both worlds-the plant, and unhindered neighboring plants. Don't know how the artichoke will handle it.
That must have been one comatose gopher after a meal like that! Too bad about being surrounded by gopher-riddled neighbors. Someday somebody will invent a real gopher stopper, and be a millionaire:>)
I'd never heard of artichokes re-propagating, it will be interesting to see what mine does down the road.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Actually separating the roots is the recommended way to "start Artichoke" since the seeds can be iffy in their germination.

Vista, CA

Anza,
It has all been a new experience for me. When i cut the fronds from mine, i cut close to the stump but they are easy to cut.

Lisa,
That would probably be the right way if you were working with small starts in a new bed, but these plants of mine that are putting out sprouts are four or five feet tall and have 7 or 8 inch thick stems, So it would take a crane and a couple of jackhammers to separate their roots. Or one hungry gopher, i guess. I am going to research how the farmers do it in Castroville.

Ernie

Vista, CA

Anza, Lisa,

All i could find out about the Artichoke shoots is that on some commercial operations they cut down the plant after harvest to encourage new "shoots" to emerge, as they believe it increases production. They are perennials in mild climates, and are usually replaced after 5 years because the roots become too crowded.

I assume the sprouts are so commonplace they are not worthy of mention by the experts.

Ernie

Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Thank you both for all the great info!

Vista, CA

Anza, Lisa,

I will try to post some pix of the Artichoke sprouts i mentioned. The largest plants that have put out sprouts were planted one year ago. The one the gophers took out did not sprout from its root, so the middle sized one was a replacement planted this Spring, along with the other middlesized one. The smaller ones are all sprouts from last years original planting. The starts i used were much like Anza's, just plants in 4 inch pots.

Sorry, but this is not a very good photo forwarding program, and i could not enlarge or adjust the size before sending so not sure if the detail will work. I cannot see the result until i send these and open the post, but if they do not suit me, i will Dmail ones that show the detail.
Ernie

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Dolan Springs, AZ(Zone 9a)

Those pics came out nice, but I must admit it is hard to distinguish among the different plants. They all look great to me, with lots of 'chokes' on them. But those are sprouts in the first picture, right? I hope you don't lose any more to gophers!

My DH and I steamed a large and two 'baby' artichokes this morning, outside on a campstove, under a cypress tree by the garden, with a 'cold one' to wash them down, and they were yummy! With my daughter in Oregon, I couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day :>)

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