Tips on growing artichokes

ScottOkiemanFebruary 18, 2013

I'm growing artichokes for the first time this year. Not Jerusalem Artichokes, the other kind. I've planted Imperial Star in flats and most of them are up and looking good. No true leaves yet, but they appear to be healthy. I'll pot them up over the next month and a half or so until it looks like a good time to plant them. Has anyone on the forum grown these in Oklahoma? Any suggestions or tips?

I have a sandy loam soil, well drained. It is a bit more on the sandy side than I would like though. I continue to amend it over time. I have cleared some additional land and it has a bit more clay than the rest of the garden. By in large it is good soil, easy to work and does a pretty good job in most years. Dry periods are my biggest difficulty. The past two years have been rough, as I am sure most of you already know.

I'm thinking of planting the artichokes in an area that is in partial shade during a portion of the day. My reading on the subject seems to point to artichokes needing a bit cooler temperatures than what we often get in Oklahoma.

I grow a very large garden with mostly traditional vegetables which keep me plenty busy through the growing season. The artichokes are one of this years "Hey, let's try this!" experiments.

So, any suggestions from past experiences growing artichokes?

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I've grown them in amended clay and in amended sandy-clayey soil.. They did equally well in either soil. They weren't in raised beds because I reserve my raised beds for tomatoes, peppers, onions and a few other plants that are pickier about well-drained soil.

I think I started the seed (Imperial Star and Green Globe) in January, potted them up to a larger container when they had their first couple of true leaves, and put them in the ground around my last frost date, which is March 28th. I then mulched them and pretty much forgot about them. They make really large plants so I planted them maybe 3' apart and I think 4' apart would have been better. They are beautiful plants and can get really big.

They did fine here, but I didn't grow them in full sun. I had them in an area where a large pecan tree to their west began to shade them around 2 or 3 p.m. in the summer months. It was fairly heavy shade until about 6 p.m.and then it became more of a dappled shade.

In order to meet their need for some cold temperatures, I had them outside from the moment they sprouted, bringing them inside the house and putting them on the light shelf if freezing temperatures were forecast. I tried to keep them outside any time the temps were above freezing so they could rack up a lot of exposure to cold-but-not-frozen-temperatures. They spent much of their early life on the screened-in porch where they were cold at times but got some sunlight daily through the south and west windows but also had some protection from the wind.

The produced just fine that summer, and some of them survived the winter and came back the next year. Others did not.

I did have them very well-mulched, but I did't go out of my way to give them tons of moisture. However, I grew them in years that were not as dry as 2011 and 2012.

I had thought they'd be hard to grow here, but they really weren't. They are so pretty that I'd grow them again just for fun even if they didn't produce a harvest. (They did produce well, though.)


    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 10:11PM
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I'm growing them also for the first time and your sandy soil sounds like mine here on the river.I'm just now starting to see some true leaves.I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Dawn, thanks for your response. You give me some hope that if we have a half way normal year I might be able to get them to harvest. I have a spot in mind which will have shade in the early morning from a very big Hickory tree and then in the afternoon from a very big Post Oak. There should be sufficient sunlight, but some protection from the long summer sun.

Tulsacityfarmer, I look forward to hearing how yours turn out. Keep us posted. We'll compare notes. Unless it's another drought, and then I reckon there won't be much to discuss. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:15PM
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Hi Scott: We love artichokes!! I'm glad that you jumped into the deep end of the pool re: growing them. I have seeds for two varieties -Imperial Star and Green Globe. I thought they would be picky and hard to grow, decided I didn't want to grow picky stuff this year.

Dawn - thanks for letting us know that you grew artichokes without many problems. You put my concerns to rest. Tomorrow, I'll pull out the artichoke seeds and get them started. Love love love artichokes!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:58PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

tulsacityfarmer, I'm glad you're growing them this year. I haven't sown any artichoke seeds. I've been distracted by the work involved in building two new garden areas---one with very sandy soil that may not grow anything at all. We'll see. I have found some prickly pear cactus sprouting in it though. I might sow some seed this week now that we're talking about them and I have artichokes on my mind.

Scott, If we ever have a normal year again, will we know what to do with it? After several years of drought gardening, I'd love to see "normal" again before we forget what it is.

Pam, You're welcome. I was surprised how easy they were and how little care they needed. I had thought they'd be difficult.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:51AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

we tried one last year in the garden. Out attempt to overwinter it didnt work so well and it rotted.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Scott, my land is all sand and I thought it would produce nothing. I had a soil test and was surprised when it needed nothing.
I have been improving the soil and as I do the color is changing. I decided to copy nature itself. I looked to how soil was made with organic material and new I could not make enough compost.
I found a tree trimmer and gave him a free place to dump them. I get a friend to use his tractor and spread a thin layer and I tilled them in.
This has improved the soil and I have never needed any fertilizer. It also helps with water retention.
I know this is off subject, but I just thought this might help you. My sand has turned from white (yes whitish) to brown over the last few years.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 4:14PM
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I mulch with leaves and till them in. I also delay cleaning up the garden in the winter until all of the leaves on the plants have fallen, or I crunch them up by hand or beat them off with a stick, before tilling mid-winter. I pile up all of the plants I take off the garden and then return it back when it has decomposed sufficiently. With sandy soil it is a continual battle to keep the fertility. Some parts of the garden I seem to be gaining, in others losing.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:06PM
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How's the artichokes coming along? I plan on planting mine in the garden next Friday or Saturday. Here's a pic.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Your artichokes look great.

If I was a market grower and if I found that artichokes sell well this year, then next year I'd step it up a notch (in terms of offering something that the competing growers might not have) and grow the variety linked below, even though the seed is kinda pricey (and the seed sold out fast despite that fact).

Those purple artichokes are so gorgeous!


Here is a link that might be useful: Opera Artichoke

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Yep, those are beautiful artichokes...and pricey!

I've never seen anyone bring artichokes to the farmers market. It will be interesting to see how they sell. That is if I can get them to produce a harvest. It will be interesting regardless.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:23PM
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The artichokes have left the building...and are now planted in the ground.

Long live the artichokes!

If not I'll replace them with something else;-p

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Yep they are pricey, and I couldn't believe they sold out...and fairly quickly too.

If artichokes are not a regular feature at your Farmer's Market, you might have to market them with recipes, or at least give prospective buyers a link to a YouTube showing them how to cook and eat an artichoke. If they don't sell as edibles, some people love to use them in bouquets or as table decorations on a platter.

I imagine your artichokes will be fine. Mine were not in good soil or in a good location, and didn't get much attention and they still did great. Many came back the second year and I hadn't known if they would or wouldn't. However, they didn't survive the 12.97" rainfall of April 29, 2009 because they were at the bottom of our sloping garden and it stayed wet for months and was covered in 4" of sandy-clayey soil that washed down from the adjacent property that sits uphill from the garden. If they had survived that, I would have been truly shocked. One tried to come back and leafed out and grew up through all that extra soil and mud and muck but then died. I think artichokes are pretty sturdy survivors.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:03PM
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