The Idiot Gardener

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Globe Artichokes

If ever a vegetable was put on this earth to make us happy, it has to be the Globe Artichoke! Everything from its happiness to defy slug attacks and pigeons, through its steadfast refusal to wilt when ignored, right up to its ultimate deliciousness, are all signs that the Globe Artichoke loves you, even when you treat it badly. It is the ultimate companion. They say that a dog is man’s best friend. Well, I beg to differ. A Globe Artichoke will never do a wee in the corner, nor will it try to hump your leg.

The Globe Artichoke is so called because the head resembles a globe, and the plant is an artichoke. It has nothing to do with the arse-gas inducing Jerusalem Artichoke, which is an entirely different bastard altogether. The Globe variant is related to the magnificent Cardoon, and the less tasty thistle.

I grow three types. Green Globe is probably the more common variety, and is a solid performer with large sweet leaves and a smooth tasty heart. Small heads can be eaten whole! Violetta di Chioggia produces smaller heads with a purple colour. I find the leaves are generally less ‘meaty’, but the hearts are good and sweet. Romanesco is new for this season, so I haven’t eaten any yet, but will add more information when I do.

Next year I want to try Gros Vert de Laon if I can find some seeds. They allegedly have very large hearts. I have seen seeds for sale from The Raven, but I’m buggered if I’m buying anything off her. My last experience resulted is terrible service, and the worst germination rates I have ever had! If need be, I’ll nip to France to get some (and some saucisson).

Here’s the rub: Globe Artichokes are a doddle to grow. Sow the seeds in modules, and wait. That’s it. Once they’re up and established, stick them into slightly larger pots, and then plant out around late May or early June. The first year is mostly spent growing roots, so don’t be disappointed if you get a few small golf-ball sized heads only. In the second year you’ll fare better. The first one of two heads will be the biggest. Cut these off once they’re ready (you can cut them small if you want), and you’ll then get another batch of smaller heads appearing. These won’t get too big, so don’t wait for them to get as big as the initial ones.

Globe Artichoke plants can be good for four or five years. Because of the slow first year, I plan to replace them the year before they start to decline. I currently have around 60 plants, because I love Globe Artichokes!

What puts most people off them is the preparation. Turning artichokes is simple enough if you just want the hearts. What I often do is steam them whole, pick off the leaves, dip in melted garlic butter, and suck out the flesh. Then once I’ve stripped it that way I pull out the choke with my fingers, and eat the heart! If you have small heads, you can eat them whole.

They’re tasty, simple to grow and fairly resilient. I even had one I accidentally strimmed grow back! What’s not to like? Plus, they have an architectural look that works well and make the messiest allotment plot look a bit special! Once you start growing them, you’ll soon see them cropping up on other plots. That’s the appeal of the Globe Artichoke!

Gros Vert de Laon
Gros Vert de Laon


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6 thoughts on “Globe Artichokes

  1. Debbie Finn

    Keep meaning to sow some globes, is it too late now. Btw ordered Raven seeds this year, geranium (cranesbill) only one out of all the packet germinated and white swan ehinacea got about six or seven from a packet. Tomatoe black krim did well as did my chilli seeds

    • The IdiotThe Idiot Post author

      The Raven prioritises unusual seeds (she can charge more) over viable seeds! You pays your money, you gets ripped off! I shall be doing a seed provider review soon!

  2. aimee

    So I planted globe artichokes in a big horse-trough container this year, thinking I’d made a significant addition to my all-perrenial garden plan. The artichokes were doing well. Then, a whole bunch of freaking volunteer potatoes came up in the same trough, all around the artichokes! Until just now, I was thinking I could harvest the artichokes, leaving the potatoes in the ground until later and then harvest them. It somehow didn’t occur to me that I’d be killing my artichokes if I did that. So now I have to go out and cut down all the potato plants to save the artichokes. Thanks a LOT, idiot!

  3. Jane

    No dealing with the ol’ artichoke before, are you sure you’re really an ‘idiot’!!??
    I too have fallen foul of The Raven…bought Zinnia seeds with almost zilch germination & the couple that did sprout I doubt will make it. Grrrr

  4. Is

    I have Violette de Provence from Moles seeds now in their 4th year, just for their good looks. It’s always seemed too much of a faff to prepare them but I’ll try your method to-night. Cheers Big Yin!


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