Artichoke Growing Guide:
Introduction to Artichoke growing
Globe artichoke is an herbaceous perennial plant native to Mediterranean region. Most parts of the plant is edible, whereas the immature, tender flower buds are mostly consumed and grown for. Even the tender, favorable base of the bud (artichoke heart) is fleshy and highly consumed. The plant grows 150 cm to 200 cm in length and 120 cm to 150 cm wide with silvery green leaves that grow 50 cm to 80 cm long. The long arching leaves can be prickly even though they look soft and the stems are fleshy and thick. Artichoke growing is done mainly for its young buds, if allowed to mature the flower opens into large purple thistles with sweet fragrance. Artichoke vegetables can be grown in containers, pots, backyards even in greenhouse/polyhouse. One can earn decent profits with artichoke growing under ideal gardening conditions.
Scientific / botanical name of Artichoke
Artichoke comes from the family Asteraceae of the plantae kingdom. The plant is a variety of a thistle species – CynaraCardunculus with subspecies Scolymus.
Other names of Artichoke
Artichoke, Globe Artichoke, French Artichoke, Green Artichoke
Artichoke in Indian Languages
- Hindi – हाथीचक (HateeChak).
- Kannada – ಪಲ್ಲೆಹೂವು (Pallehuvu).
- Gujarati – કાંટાળીખાદ્યવનસ્પતિનો(KantaliKhadyaVanaspatino).
- Bengali – আর্টিচোক(Articoka).
- Marathi – बाक (Baka).
- Punjabi – ਆਂਟਿਚੋਕ (Anticoka).
- Tamil – கூனைப்பூ (Kunaippu).
- Telugu – ఆర్టిచోక్(Artichok).
Health Benefits in Artichoke Buds
Artichokes are very nutritious, while each bud is a source of potassium, folic acid, magnesium, and iron minerals. With two grams of protein and nine grams of carbohydrates and each bud has less than 40 calories.
Artichoke Varieties / Artichoke Cultivars
- Big Heart: This cultivar can withstand some heat and is a thornless variety.
- Green Globe: This cultivar is mostly grown as commercial crop in US (California) though it is not adaptable to other non-ideal farming conditions.
- Imperial star: This cultivar is easy to grow from seed is recommended to gardeners. This variety can withstand frost and colder regions.
- Purple of Romagna: This cultivar is tender and tasty with round-headed purple chokes. This variety grows well in warm season regions and can grow under shade. Purple of Romagna is favorite in Italian region and more popular with chefs.
Climate Requirement for Artichoke growing
Artichoke grow well in temperatures 12° C to 24° C. The plants thrive best in mild winters, cool and moist summers regions. In these growing environments the plants can be harvested for up to 5 years. The plants in hot and dry areas can be grown under shades though the buds grow best in full sun. At cold temperatures the outer skin of bud appears whitish and sometimes brown but still the buds are edible. However, in freezing temperatures the buds turns black and are not edible.
Soil Requirement for Artichoke Growing
Artichokes are perennial and if you happen to be planting in your home garden or backyard or in terrace garden select your site as these plants can stay for up to 5 years. The plants need space to spread and in colder regions they can be planted comparatively closer by. As mentioned earlier they will be placed for 5 years, so at the time of sowing the soil must be well fed with organic manure and compost. Artichokes are adapted to a wide range of soil types while the plants are deep-rooted. They perform best in deep fertile, loamy and well drained soils. Heavy clay and light sandy soils are not recommended. Soils that have pH value between 6.0 to 7.0 are ideal.
Land preparation in Artichoke growing
Prepare the land by ploughing three to four times, a deep chisel plowed is idle to enhance proper drainage. Proper drainage is very important to prevent from root rotting. Mix the soil with well rotten, decomposed farm yard manure and fertilizers on the last plough. Irrigate the land thoroughly before planting.
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Propagation in Artichoke growing
Propagation of Artichoke is done either by seed or root. Though the plants do not often grow true to seed even if you try saving seed from the plants in your garden, seeds purchased have more success rate as the seeds from the plants are grown under controlled conditions.
Direct field seeding has less success rate for germination, hence seed vernalization is recommended. Seeds are sown in green house or at nursery and transplanted to the fields. Seeds germinate in about seven to ten days in nurseries or green house under controlled temperatures of 23° to 29°C daytime and 15° to 18°C nighttime. Young seedlings from true leaf stage must be applied with 100 to 200 ppm N soluble fertilizer on a weekly basis for vigorous growth.
Root propagation is more recommended in growing artichokes. Dormant artichoke roots about six to eight inches tall are separated from the mature plant and transplanted to the fields or to the garden. While separating the roots of the shoot ensure roots of the established artichoke are not damaged. Dig a pit of eight inches by eight inches on the raised beds and place shoot with root ball or the dormant root segment in it.
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Seed rate, Season, Sowing and Spacing in Artichoke Growing
Plants planted in closer spacing will lead to less secondary bud production. Though spacing between plants or the density of plants per acre and yield results have not been evaluated. It is recommended to have four to six feet plant spacing thereby 3,800 to 4,200 plants can be accommodated in an acre land.
Seedlings are sensitive to depth of planting hence care should be taken not to plant too deeply and roots of the shoots or root balls are lightly covered with soil. After transplanting the young seedlings from the nursery, 250 to 350 ppm N soluble fertilizer must be used to water plants individually till irrigation system runs after few days.
Irrigation in Artichoke growing
Moisture deficiency results to inferior loose buds in quality. Once plants get established regular irrigation is required especially during the growing season. Ensure the soil retains moisture, over watering or water logging should be avoided especially in heavy clay soils.
Manures and Fertilizers in Artichoke growing
Plants when they reach 25 cm to 30 cm in diameter or four weeks after transplantation must be treated with soluble nitrogen. Depending on size and growth 7 to 9 kilos of soluble Nitrogen is required per acre for every two to three weeks. Apply 40 to 50 kilo N per acre when new crown growth begins.
Intercultural operations in Artichoke growing
Apply three to four inch of mulch, this will prevent from weeds and will retain soil moisture and keeps the roots cool.
Pests and diseases in Artichoke growing
- Curly dwarf: The leaves of the plants start curling and growth of the buds remain small and misshaped. Dwarfing of the plant is the major symptom and if neglected will eventually kills the plant. To control remove the infected plants.
- Botrytis: After long periods of wet weather or warm weather, on damaged tissues either by insects or frost a gray brown fungus gets developed. This will reduce the yield of the crop.
- Artichoke plume moth: Small worm like larvae cause the damage. They destroy the base of the bract thereby destroying the entire bud. Remove the plants are infected and destroy.
- Slugs and Snails : They damage the outer surface of the buds and eat leaves and stems. Chemicals that control pests which are available at local nursery or garden supplies must be sprayed. Follow the instructions on the pesticide to control pests.
Harvesting in Artichoke growing
Bud production starts 65 to 95 days after transplanting. By early summer buds soar out of atop on all stems. Each stem has several buds and the top most bud ripens first. Every plant has a primary stalk from which a main bud will develop and this bud will be bigger in size compared to all other buds. Artichoke buds that develop later on the lower stems won’t grow as big as the top bud. Buds must be harvested when they reach at least 3 inches in diameter and the lower bud bracts begin to separate. The appearance and change in color such as less bright green are indication of buds reaching harvest. While cutting, cut from their stems about one to two inches below the bud base.
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Marketing of Artichoke
The harvested buds can be marketed in local markets directly or by marketing agency to export. Artichokes buds must be checked for insects or damage before marketing. In commercial markets, the demand and pricing will be based on size and quality. Artichokes can be stored up to two to three weeks under proper refrigeration.
Tips for Artichoke growing
- The artichoke grows best in frost-free regions having cool foggy summers.
- The best way to reproduce is transplanting by roots.
- Keep soil moist throughout the growing season.
- Keep weeds out of artichoke beds.
- The edible buds grow best in cool weather and cannot tolerate frost.
- After harvest cut leaf growth back to 12 inches and tie them over the root crown.
- Growing from seeds frequently produces low quality plants.
- Delay in harvesting leads buds to mature which are not edible.
- Replanting every three to four years, grower will have best results.
- Harvest before they reach the blooming stage.