Its Spring and the first flower head growths of Green Globe Artichokes are showing and some already able to be harvested. Green Globe is a nice thick fleshy very round all green Artichoke variety that tends to flower early and then continue long throughout the summer into Autumn. This is probably why it’s the most commonly grown in Australia. This variety has a very meaty and substantial flavour. Its a great one for lightly simmering the bud heart and slicing into a salad with fresh broad beans, mint, peas and some thyme with a touch of lemon juice and Olive oil.
Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus
They are basically a giant thistle and will grow anywhere you can see a thistle growing successfully. They seem to like average water supply during their main growth period in early spring and summer but thrive and flower more successfully if you give them more.
They generally grow to about 1 metre high and wide so make space for them to expand with several growths together.
They need to be kept on the dry side during winter when the heads die back down to ground level if it’s a very cold climate.
They appear to get by with minimal additional nutrition added but again like it when you give them more manures and other food.
Growing them from seed is generally successful with a fairly high germination rate if the seed is fresh that year.
Some people grow them as annuals but they are really a perennial resprouting root system. You can either leave them to exapnd in number each year in the one clump, or when the new sprouts are showing, excavate the root a little and separate the new growths with a sharp blade to replant. Generally the best idea is to only split them off once you have more than 3 sprouts coming up. ie if there are 4 new sprouts cut one off and leave 3 in the clump.
They will continue to flower if you trim the flower buds off. In some cases you may get get up to 5 flushes of flower buds over the growing year. The prime first central bud is always the biggest. The main prime flower bud growths are usually about 15cm plus wide with the secondary and tertiary flower heads smaller at about 10cm plus.
The stems also are edible if you peel (eg with a potato peeler) and slice them. If you pick the buds very small you can leave a lot of the the stem on and eat them with the bud attached.
You can eat the leaves like the Cardoon but raw they are very astringent and leave a really weird taste in your mouth for a long time.
The trick with the Artichoke is how to prepare them. Essentially you just want the core bud centre without the leaves and the ‘choke’ which is the furry (and sometimes very spiky) centre of the developing flower.
Ideally pick the bud just before it starts to open at the top. Green Globe tends to have a central hole which goes down into the centre of the flower bud so you can use that to gauge where you need to trim down to the centre.