Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Surprise of 2013: artichokes

We have tried to grow artichokes at least twice in the last five years, without success. We understood that artichokes required a lot of heat and sunlight to grow; we suspected that our garden just wasn't warm enough. That didn't explain why the artichokes in the demonstration gardens of the Chicago Botanical Gardens seemed to thrive.

This year, we gave artichokes another shot, planting a few starts in the "dodecahedron" bed in the northeast corner of the garden. By June, the starts had grown to the point where they usually stopped in our garden.

June 15

June 22

To our surprise, the plants kept growing. By late July, a number of rosettes strained towards the sun.

July 27

August 3

In early August, some of the artichoke blooms started to turn purple and open. We had to consult sources to determine when was the best time to harvest these unexpected vegetables; we'd never gotten this far before.

August 10

We harvested the largest of the artichokes and brought them to the pantry, hoping that someone there would know how to prepare them.
August 17

In early September, we were able to harvest a second round of artichokes.
August 31
As of September 21, the artichoke plants had no more fruit to harvest, but still thrived.

Artichokes are perennial plants; now that ours are established in the dodecahedron bed, we can expect another harvest of globes next year.