Last summer and this summer, we've been growing artichokes which is definitely something out of the ordinary for a vegetable garden. Artichokes have to be grown as an annual here but we feel like it's worth the effort.
I started the seeds indoors early this spring, then moved them out to our little unheated greenhouse as a transition to being planted out in the garden.
I love the gray foliage and its texture adds a lot of interest to the garden. We've harvested 8 artichokes so far and there are at least a dozen more developing on the plants. I crammed 6 artichoke plants into one of my 3'-by-8' raised beds and have discovered that I really should have only planted 4 plants because it's way too crowded in there. And another telling reason that there's too many plants in there is that only 4 of the plants are producing. Hmm... So I definitely plan to grow them again next year but I'll keep it to 4 plants.
Artichokes are easy to prepare. First you need to soak them in some salted water for about 15 minutes, which makes any insects (particularly earwigs) that are in between the leaves crawl out. Yes, that's disgusting but it works well. The next thing we do is use some utility scissors to trim off the tips of each leaf.
Then you can either steam them in a kettle with a couple of inches of water in the bottom for 45 minutes or you can cook a couple in the microwave for about 12 minutes on high. We serve them with a dollop of mayo for dipping but some folks use melted butter.
The variety we're growing is called 'Green Globe' and it has done really well for us. You can find the seeds at Ed Hume Seeds (www.edhumeseeds.com).