Globe Artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are large thistle plants native to the Mediterranean, cultivated as a delicious food source. The plant itself has beautiful foliage, with large deeply lobed silvery green leaves which can be a stunning feature in both vegetable and ornamental gardens. There is a lovely purple-green leaved variety also available. Within the plant’s spiky leaves lies a tender artichoke heart that has a delicate, slightly nutty flavour which yields a mild lingering sweetness. This heart (or globe) is the immature flower head of the plant.
Globe artichokes require full sun and good drainage to prevent the roots rotting. They are heavy feeders and grow beautifully with plenty of manure and compost. You will also need to maintain a slightly acidic soul pH. Regular watering is important if you want big tender delicious buds. Heavy frost can toughen or damage developing buds.
As well as their wonderful taste, globe artichokes are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants.
Choose globes from within the leaves that are dark green and heavy, with tight leaves. If the leaves are open the globe is past its prime. The plant can live for up to 15 years but produce best when they are young, so divide plants every 2 to 3 years and feed young establishing plants every 2 weeks with weak liquid fertiliser. The flowers are stunning, but if you let it flower, the plant will reduce bud production.
Give one a try… they are a great plant to grow in any garden!