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.