Globe Artichokes are no relation to Jerusalem Artichoke – in fact, they couldn’t be more different. Whereas jerusalem artichokes will grow in any soil, and produce enormous yields of knobbly tubers underground, Globe Artichokes are grown for the dense hearts that are inside flowerheads which grow on top of a massive thistle-like plant. They are low yield (a plant that takes up a meter of space produces just a dozen heads), and fiddly to cook with quite frankly, but the plants are beautiful in their own right.
Growing from seed is possible, but many GIYers use more reliable “offsets” which are the sideshoots from an established plant. They will need a very fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered position. To grow from seed, sow seeds in module trays indoors in March – plant them on in to larger 10cm pots and plant out in June after hardening off. Space them at least 1 meter apart. Cover the plants with fleece if there is a risk of frost. Offsets are planted about 5cm deep. Trim the leaves to 13cm after planting.
Keep plants weed free and water well. In the first year remove the flowerhead as soon as it appears – this will give you a better crop the next year (sounds great in theory, but not so hot if you are an instant gratification kind of person). To prepare plants for the winter, remove any dead stems and dying foliage. Fork over the soil around the plants and then put a thick layer of well rotted manure or compost around them. Give them a high potash liquid feed in the spring.
Harvest the largest, top globe first when it turns fat and soft and just before the scales start to open out. Cut a short length of stalk with it. Then harvest the other heads as they mature. You will get approx a dozen of them between June and August. Globe Artichokes will produce globes every year for 3-4 years and then they start to produce progressively less. At this stage, it’s worth propagating new plants by cutting offsets from old ones. So their lifespan is about 5 years in total.
Globe Artichokes are relatively problem free apart from the usual suspects – snails, slugs, aphids etc.