Artichokes are considered a gourmet vegetable due to the delicate flavour of the ball-like flowerheads, which are picked and eaten before they have a chance to bloom.
They make good structural plants of up to 1m tall so plant in an area with plenty of space probably at the back of a border. Plants can be grown in groups 60cm (2ft) apart with 75cm (2.5ft) between rows. Each plant will produce up to 12 edible heads.
Water plants well until established, ensuring that they don’t dry out in hot weather. Cut back stems in autumn and protect the crown over winter.
Leave alone for the first year as the plant needs to put all its energy into making growth, so remove any flowerheads as they form. In the second year, allow the edible heads to develop for harvesting in summer. Pick the terminal bud (the one at the top) first, when it’s large and swollen, but before the scales have started to open – cut off with a few centimetres of stem attached. The side buds can be picked when they have reached a decent size.
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