HOW TO GROW ARTICHOKES:
Artichokes are a really fun plant to grow. They are also beautiful plants, so choose a location you’ll be happy with for many years that will also highlight the plant in the garden — and plant it in full sun. Many varieties are said to be perennials in zones 8-10; however, we are in zone 5 and our winter temps fall to 10 below, and as long as we mulch 6-8” deep the artichoke still comes back year after year.
Along with having wonderful flavor and lots of nutritional value, there are also some medicinal benefits to artichokes. It is said that artichoke leaves make an effective digestive tea that can stimulate the gallbladder, aid in eliminating stomach acids and excessive fats, and counteract gas and bloating. They can also assist in detoxifying the liver.
One of biggest keys to success in organic gardening is the condition of the soil. There needs to be adequate organic matter to hold moisture and nutrients. And at the same time, the soil needs to be loose enough for good aeration and drainage, which will help promote strong root development.
Artichokes are easy to grow if your soil has the proper nutrients. People always assume their soil is average, but unless you have a soil test it is just a guess. More often than not, it is necessary to amend the soil to achieve optimum pH balances, as well as the proper levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Testing your soil is ideal; however, at a bare minimum, before planting anything, work in at least 2-4” of organic mulch and at least one-half inch of finished compost into your topsoil. And if you suspect your soil is less than ideal, mix in a cup of MegaVeggie if you feel your soil is in great condition, two cups if in good condition and 3 cups if in poor condition, into every 100 sq. ft. of soil. This 100% organic soil amendment will make up for a lot of deficiencies.
Also, mulching with compost or straw will help keep the soil moist and also help to feed the plant and prevent weeds. Don't mulch over 3-4" because this might prevent oxygen from entering the soil and could cause root rot.
If planting from seed: Plant after soil has warmed and all frost danger is over. Plant seed 1/4 to 1/2” deep, 24 to 36” apart, in rich soil. Then water with MegaSea seaweed solution. This will help germinate the seed and promote root growth.
If planting seedlings: If you choose to plant seedlings, start indoors two to three weeks before the last anticipated hard frost. Harden them off first if you are buying or growing starts. This is done by placing the seedlings in direct sun for an hour, then placing in the shade. Each following day increase the time in the sun by one hour; repeat this each day until they are in the sun for 6 to 8 hours, which will take a week or so. Make sure they don’t dry out.
If you know there is a chance of hard freeze, bring seedlings inside until freeze is over. When it is safe, leave seedlings outside, placing them next to a building with an overhang and let them get used to nighttime temperatures. The building and overhead cover should give you some protection. After one night outside and they are used to sun, you can plant without shocking the plant. Plant in soil when outside temperatures may go to 32 degrees but mostly stay above freezing.
When planting, use a tablespoon of bone meal or MegaStart in the bottom each planting hole. If you’re Vegan or don’t like to use bone meal, then MegaStart will work. It’s 100% organic and animal-free. It is best to root feed with MegaSea right after planting to prevent shock. Seaweed is better for shock prevention than any other product on the market.
After planting, continue to feed MegaSea once a week by spraying leaves, and MegaFish every two weeks through root feeding until harvest. I use a hose sprayer for fish, but just make sure you spray enough so that the roots of the plants are soaked. If fish gets on the leaves, don’t worry, it won’t burn the leaves.
If your plants are not vigorous, they are not getting enough food and your soil is in poor condition. If so, side dress with 2 tablespoons of MegaVeggie around the base of the plants and water in. Continue the seaweed once a week along with fish emulsion every two weeks. Do not let the soil dry out; soil should be moist but not soggy.
Recommended Schedule for Fertilizing and Amending Soil:
1. Bone Meal or MegaStart -- at planting
2. MegaSea Seaweed -- at planting and once a week until harvest
3. MegaFish Hydrolyzed Fish -- every two weeks after planting until harvest
4. MegaVeggie -- if plant does not appear vigorous, every two weeks until harvest
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