Friday, February 17, 2012

Starting This Year's Artichokes

I'm trying a new variety of artichoke this year. 'Tavor' is another 'Imperial Star' type artichoke bred specifically to produce in the first year. The edible buds are supposedly green and have purple tips. For the past couple of years, I've grown Imperial Star with great success. Last summer, they produced early and well, starting mid-July and ending in late August. With the mild winter we've had so far, I'm pretty confident they will overwinter successfully in the old garden. But of course, I might not be around to witness it.

It's a bit late but I started this year's artichokes this past weekend. If we were in zone 6 Massachusetts, I would have started them in late January. Since our frost free date here in Burlington, Vermont isn't until mid to late May, I think I should be fine. I try to time it so that they have a least 6 weeks of growing time indoors and then another 6 weeks outside in 40 - 50 degree F weather before being transplanted out. Exposing them to this chilling period tricks them into believing they've experienced winter - and hence upping the odds they'll flower in the first year.

Getting artichoke seeds to germinate can be quite challenging. Refrigerating the seeds for a couple of days helps. But the best way to ensure success in my experience is to pre-sprout them. I soak my seeds fro 12-24 hours and them allow them to sprout covered in a damp paper towel placed inside a plastic sandwich bag. Usually, it takes between 5 to 7 days for the seeds to sprout. Interestingly, it only my Tevor seeds 3 days to do so. (I'm still waiting on my Imperial Star.) They get covered with potting soil when the white root tips are barely visible.

Some of last year's Imperial Star Artichokes.


  1. great tips I am planning on giving artichokes a try this year

  2. Artichokes are a crop I've never tried. Good luck with yours.

  3. My artichoke friend, for the past 2 years I have been by your side starting these babies, but I have officially given up on them LOL! They "lived" last year, but only got about a foot tall and looked terrible. They are not for my garden apparently, so I'll be growing them vicariously through you!

  4. I am not starting any artichokes this year because I have managed to overwinter my plants from last year and they are growing and looking good. I am looking forward to seeing how they produce in their second year and in a regular garden bed (they were in large pots last year).

  5. Good Luck with your artichokes this year! I am not going to try them again until next year.

    Having any luck with a plot??

  6. Robin - I handed in my application and it they said that the site closest to me is full but there are plenty of plots available at the Intervale, which is the largest site in Burlington. I'm crossing my fingers!

  7. I'm seriously jealous of your garden. I live in an apartment, so I don't get to grow all that awesome stuff. I love artichokes, so I'm experimenting with growing them indoors. I'm going to try to vernalize them in the cold air from slightly open windows during the Colorado winter. Hopefully it goes well!