The artichoke is an edible thistle flower bud which is eaten before it opens. If we wait until full maturity, it blooms a beautiful purple thistle. Native to Mediterranean regions, the Greeks and Romans cultivated the plant and worked to improve the wild form. Improvement and cultivation continued to spread to Spain, Italy, and France before it traveled to the United States in the 19th century.
When to Plant Artichoke Seeds
Artichokes are grown successfully in warmer climates, so January-March is prime planting time! Colder zones will need to start indoors under fluorescent lighting 2 months before the last frost.
Where to Plant Artichoke Seeds
Pick a spot that has loose and well-draining soil and is well fertilized. Artichokes thrive in partial to full sun.
How to Plant Artichoke Seeds
Carefully decide where you would like to plant your artichokes, as this will be considered your “perennial garden” that you will not be tilling up each year like you do for your annuals. Artichokes grow best where there are mild winters and long, frost-free, moist summers. They will need at least 100 frost-free growing days. Amend your soil with organic compost and keep it evenly moist, allowing soil to dry between watering. Sow seeds ½” deep and thin to 6’ apart. Where winters are cold, cut plants back to 10” and cover with a box or basket, mulching with straw or leaves to help maintain an even soil temperature. Artichokes bear best the 2nd year and should be started from new plants every 3-4 years.