Artichokes-post your updates (Part 2)

theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)March 11, 2014

I'm starting a new post since the old one (linked below) is over 100 posts and, obviously, because this is a new year.

To: AiliDeSpain, planatus, sunnibel7, and greenmulberry. I've got some questions.

1) How big and wide (in feet) would you say the plants got in their first year?
2) Did any of you try to overwinter your artichoke plants? If so, how did you go about trying to protect them? (It's too soon to know if it worked, I think.)
3) For those who got 'chokes, about how many did you get per plant?
4) Are you trying again this year?

This will be my first time trying to grow artichokes. I bought some 'Purple of Romagna' artichoke seeds at the store yesterday (they were half-off and I couldn't resist) and winter sowed some of them. My hope is that the seeds sprout while it's still chilly outside and that there will still be enough time for them to get vernalized naturally before summer comes, resulting in 'chokes this year. I admit this might be wishful thinking.

So as a back up I've also started a few seeds inside (although I've probably started them too late) and I'll vernalize them when the time comes. This too might be wishful thinking because of the late start and because I'm fairly certain this variety isn't conducive to annual growing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Artichokes-post your updates (Part 1)

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chervil2(z5 MA)

I think you will still be able to vernalize your seedlings. I started my seed inside on Feb 6th. The seedlings are transplanted into 4" pots and have already gone outside on a cool day to acclimate for a few hours. Cold weather is still in the forecast with a prediction of 2F in my neck of the woods on Friday morning.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:38PM
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I started mine under lights in my basement last Frebruary 10, 2013 in zone 7, Northern VA. I transplanted them into the raised bed shown in the photo in early May. The plants got about 2 feet high and 2 feet wide in their first year? I am trying to overwinter the artichoke plants by covering them with leaves and then with a tub? It's too soon to know if it worked. I did not get any blooms the first year. If the very cold winter killed them, I am trying again this year, but I will protect them better during the winter. If the winter killed them, I plan to cut the next ones back to 8 inches, cover with leaves, then cover with a carbboard box and then a plastic cover.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:01AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

My artichokes succumbed to vole damage- the little buggers seem to have a real liking for the roots in my garden. They got the plants before they really took off, so while a couple limped through the plants stayed stunted. We'll see if those made it through winter or not. i think it likely that the voles rediscovered them and ate the rest but I haven't pulled back the mulch to check yet. I'll try one more year since I have the seed, but if I can't get a better handle on the voles artichokes and sweet potatoe may not be thing I can grow successfully here.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:44AM
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calbayarea(9 SF Bay/Fremont)

I hollowed out this stump and transplanted this artichoke from a 4" pot. It's starting to take hole and has grown a lot in the past week.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:17AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

That's awesome! How did you hollow out your stump?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 11:56AM
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I have four plants about 3 ft from each other. Three of the plants were planted last spring and one is several years old. Usually I would over winter them under a big pile of leaves covered with a tarp. I live in zone 6b and routinely get down to -5, but this last year all I did was mound up the roots with dirt and they all survived, in fact they are about 8" tall right now. For the most par this last winter was mild for us and I don't think the ground over froze more than 2-4" deep even though the lowest temperature was -8 for one night. I think the key to their survival is solely dependent on weather or not the roots get protected from being frozen.
I have had a problem this spring with one of the plants, the new leaves would seem to die for no reason. I found that little millipedes were eating the stalks just under the soil line so that plant got some Seven powder, we will see if that was enough.

If you are going to plant them I would give each plant at least 2-3 feet in every direction as they do get pretty big and will fill this space in.
I got about a dozen artichokes from my older plant last year and 4-6 form my newer ones but I never let the chokes get that big, maybe baseball size. They have way more flavor when they are small and when you cut the bud off it seems to stimulate the plant to make more. At any given time the plant will usually have 3-4 larger buds ready to pick with a few more baby ones waiting for their turn.
I will keep growing them and probably plant more as my kids love them dipped in butter. The good thing about them is that they are perennials and come up every year if you protect them. The bad news is lots of times you wont get any buds the first year because the plant never got any chilling from the nursery or being grown from a seed.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:11PM
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We had good luck in the 3rd year of growing, had more than we actually picked and used. Terrible winter though has brought on a total kill back as far as I can see. Hoping they we resprout with warmer temps. I would be willing to start over if necessary as they were beautiful plants and delicious to eat.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:21PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

Sorry for the delays.

chervil2- How are your plants doing?

CharlieBoring- I'm anxious to know if your plants made it through the winter. Be sure to post back as soon as you find out. And thanks for giving the approx. size of the first year plants.

sunnibel7- Sorry to hear about your vole issues.

calbayarea- Nice planter you've got there. Hope your plant does well.

gregkdc1- Many thanks for the information about how many 'chokes one can expect per plant and about how you overwinter yours.

sandiwhite- I hope your plants survived. That's a great looking plant in the photo.

Now an update on my seeds. All 3 containers that I've started indoors have started sprouting and I have them under grow lights. Still waiting on my winter sown seeds but it's still just slightly above freezing here most days so I'll probably be waiting for a while yet.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 2:58PM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

I just posted an update about one of my plants successfully overwintering!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 8:27PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I gave up due to ants and earwigs. Also, I think voles got them. I might try again one more time, but unless third time's a charm, I won't after that. Nancy PS Sandi...aren't you letting yours go too long?They look like they're almost ready to flower.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:04PM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

And to answer the other questions, I got maybe 6 or so chokes per plant my first year with Imperial Star, I vernalized them to get them to produce the first year. They were started indoors under lights.
I decided not to try again from seed this year and I wasn't expecting them to make it through the winter.
The reason I wasn't going to try again is because of the quality of the chokes, they were small and not that edible. I couldn't justify the space they take vs. the fruit I got.
Now that one has successfully overwintered I am hoping the quality of the fruit will improve this year.

This post was edited by AiliDeSpain on Wed, Mar 19, 14 at 21:18

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:15PM
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I had a friend in Italy that did not want to devote garden space to her chokes. She decided to find nooks in her landscaping where one artichoke plant could flourish. She planted one by each of her cloths-line posts, one in a corner between her patio and house and so on. She had lots of chokes.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:40AM
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My first attempt with artichokes was Imperial Star, grown from seed. They did fairly well, gave me a few artichokes per plant. I dug the roots in fall and kept them under the house over winter. The next spring I replanted the roots, and I got a few smaller artichokes. It wasn't worth overwintering the roots under the house. A friend gave me some Green Globe seeds, and I grew them as annuals. They produced bigger chokes than Imperial Star, and more of them. This year I'm trying Emerald, grown from seed.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:53AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

My plants are thriving on the windowsill while temperatures outside are still very chilly. On Tuesday, it was 9F! Hopefully, the ground will start to thaw soon.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 8:37PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Today is a good day to start on the garden- I'll see if castor oil works to deter my little artichoke-ruining invaders. I have 3 nice sized young plants under lights, soon I'll start vernalizing them- shouldn't be hard to "trick" them into thinking they've been through a winter this year! (The real question being when will winter let us move on?) I think this winter killed my cardoon (close relative to the artichoke) which was 3-4 years old. But those can be started and planted out later if I need to replace it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:38AM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

My artichokes all got three feet wide or so, one was at least four feet wide. Beautiful plants, I decided to start some from seed again this year, in case the ones I tried to overwinter did not survive.

I got about 4 decent chokes from each plant, and an uncountable amount of wee ones. Although even my best ones were not as good as a nice one from the produce section. The best ones came of the plant that I had stuck in the garden are where all my chicken bedding had been dumped the fall before.

I tried to over winter two by placing the tops of some cold frames on them, so an eight in deep box with a hinged glass lid, and I filled up the open space with leaves.

It is too early to see how they did I think.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 4:11PM
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engineering_gardener(SC 8a)

Here's my two green globe artichoke plants. I started from seed indoors in September and then moved them into the greenhouse in January and then into the raised bed about two weeks ago. It's my first try at growing artichokes and they seem be be doing well but sure took a long time to take off.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Well I think my artichokes plants are done for. They have some sort of root rot, maybe verticillium? Other plants in my garden, TC black berries, don't seem to be showing any symptoms.
It sucks that they made it through the winter to grow new shoots that later wilted up and died. I had 4 plants and it looks like I lost my oldest plant and one of my younger ones.
Of the other two remaining plants one seems fine and the other is going down fast. This spring has been really mild and the plants had a lot of early growth that was later damaged by frost. On top of that the ground has stayed moist longer than it usually does and I think this could have contributed to their demise. I want to plant more but I don't know if the new ones will be re-infected or if this was a fluke from the odd spring we have had, any thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 10:14PM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

Definitely frost damage, you should have put a cloche over the new growth when there was a hard freeze. they may still put out new growth since the roots are well established.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:03PM
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I removed the buckets from the top of my chokes on Sunday. I used a leaf vacume to pick up and grind the leaves for my garden. So far only one leaf on one artichoke plant has emerged from the soil. That is encouraging however. We had temperatures down to 4 degrees F and there were more very cold days than any year for at least 30 years. I will post a picture if/when they start to emerge. Right now I am enjoying the blooms of my plum, apricot, peach, asian pear, cherry and honeyberries. By the way, I believe my fuzzy kiwis have survived. My hardy kiwis are surging sap from the pruning I did during the winter.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 7:49AM
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Double post.

This post was edited by CharlieBoring on Tue, Apr 8, 14 at 8:22

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:19AM
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My chokes have still not emerged. Is it still too early in Northern VA? My guess is that they were killed by the harsh winter. I need to dig down and check.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:27AM
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Mine come up in March even when the nighttime lows are well below freezing. They seem to be cold hardy in the spring and grow shorter bushier leaves.
I lost two of my plants to root rot when the ground was soggy. There is still a lot of root left that didn't seem to die that hasn't sent up any new grow, finger crossed they come back. I gave my Mom a root for a transplant last year and it didn't send up growth until late June. Just throwing that out there I'm no expert but If there are any roots left on your plants it might just take a while for them to show life. My other two plants that didn't die are about 20" tall and 20" across and very bushy at the moment.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 6:00PM
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I ate the first artichoke of the season last night and was delectable! I forget how good they taste or how happy some of the simpler things can make you.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 12:33PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Here's my final haul of the smaller sideshoot artichokes. I think I will try to clean them and cook them then cover them with butter and lemon! Can't wait! If I can just figure out the difference between successful years and the years of failure I'll consider myself able to actually grow these. Good artichokes to you all!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:20PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

I could have sworn I commented on this a long time ago but apparently not. So here's a short, but long overdue update.

On April 3rd I began keeping the indoor started seedlings outside in a mini-greenhouse. I was bringing them back inside when the nighttime temp was forecast to be below 40*F.

The winter sown seeds that I planted on March 10th, sprouted on April 9th. These remained outside at all times. On April 20th, these nearly died because I accidentally left the cover on the container during a sunny day and forgot to water them but they eventually recovered.

I planted both the indoor started and winter sown plants on May 9th. The winter sown plants were about half as big as those started indoors. Both sets of plants should have been sufficiently vernalized.

The artichokes were growing well but they stalled out about a month ago. I've given them fertilizer but they're still the same size. The two winter sown cardoons I've got planted in the same bed are growing larger and the two rows of beets I planted down the middle of the bed in early June are growing well and nearing harvest. So at least I'll get something from that bed this year.

To be honest, I'm tempted to rip the artichokes out and replant something for Fall. But I also want to see if I can overwinter them successfully. So I'm not sure what to do. One thing I do know for certain is that this is the first and only time I'm planting artichokes. Major waste of space in a small garden like mine.


P.S. Congrats to those of you who were successful!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:02PM
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My artichokes did not survive the winter in Northern VA, so I am going to try again this next spring. I intend to start my seeds in mid January in my basement, under lights, no heat pad. Anyone have advice?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2014 at 10:57AM
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