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!
Tagged Globe Artichoke