Thursday, January 29, 2009

Imperial Star Artichoke

This artichoke is for gardeners who can't overwinter artichokes or just want to grow them as an annual. The 6-8 buds of Imperial Star are nearly spineless, up to 3-4 inches in diameter, globe-shaped, and a rich glossy green. Imperial Star has the same rich flavor as our old favorite Green Globe. Will perennialize in areas above zone 7. Plant Variety Protected. OP

"Cynara scolymus: Introduced into California in the 1920's by Italian farmers, the artichoke has since become a chosen favorite of gourmet gardeners on this continent.

CULTURE: Artichokes and cardoon appreciate conditions that foster rapid growth. Start indoors in late January or early February; sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in 4 inch pots filled with sterile seedling mix. When the soil temperature is maintained between 50-75°F, emergence occurs in 10-20 days. Sow heavily and expect 70% germination. Of these seedlings, about 20% will not produce high quality plants. Cull out the small and albino plants. Fertilize transplants with a good all purpose liquid fertilizer such as Earth Juice Grow 2-1-1. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed, but when the seedlings can still receive 10-12 days of temperatures under 50°F, which induces earlier budding. The period of cool temperatures needed to stimulate growth and flowering varies with location and variety. Space transplants 24 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart. Work in 1 cup of our complete fertilizer or a shovelful of composted chicken manure per plant.
After the first year's harvest, remove off-types and less vigorous plants leaving a final spacing of 5-6 feet between plants. In late October, cut plants to about 8-10 inches above ground and cover with straw or leaves to keep the stump from freezing. Uncover in early April. Overwinter survival is likely but not certain. Regrowth will be offshoots of the parent plants.
DISEASE: Relatively disease-free.
HARVEST: Cut flowers before they start to open. The smaller, immature artichokes are the most tender. Rub the cut 'chokes with a slice of lemon to prevent discoloration. Store at 36°F and 100% relative humidity.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 70%. Usual seed life: 1 year. Approximately 15-20 seeds per gram, 28 grams per ounce.

WHEN TO PLANT: Sow seeds indoors at 70°F about three months before the last frost and set the plants out, preferably in a protected place with a southern exposure, when the weather has settled throughly. Some gardeners rush their artichokes with heavy feeding and early plantings under protection about four weeks before the last frost. They do this because the artichoke seems to be stimulated to form buds when the days are long and they want the plant to be sufficiently robust by that time to support the sizable "chokes".
HOW TO PLANT: Space plants about 2' apart in rows 3' apart. Keep soil out of the plant's crown when setting it out.
GROWING CONDITIONS: Globe artichokes do well in fertile, humus rich, well limed, well drained soil. Plants need careful protection where winters are cold and even then some may die from crown rot. If the root lives, it will send up new shoots the following year. Achieving a bud (edible artichoke) the first year makes all the effort worthwhile, though.

PURCHASED: 1g from Territorial Seed Co. Jan '09. $4.45
STARTED SEED: Somehow I completely spaced my artichokes! Should've started the seeds a month ago - I hope it's not too late. Put them in the flat on 02/23/09. Guess we'll see at the end of the season. (Crosses fingers!) First one sprouted on 02/28/09.
DISEASE ISSUES: 04/12/09: Today I noticed that I have what I think is Bacterial Leaf Spot. I clipped off the effected areas and bleached the scissors afterwards. I hope that's enough for now. I also need to get some 5-10-10 to help the plant recover, or so I'm advised. It's spread by moisture and water. Hard to escape that in the PNW. A copper based organic fungicide may help. I'm not there yet.




No comments: