Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Artichokes



One of the more unusual vegetables here in Ireland is the artichoke. If you know about artichokes, then you either love them or hate them. My husband & I fall into the former category, and have been known to shout for joy while driving through artichoke fields in Britany.
It's unusual to find these vegetables for sale in supermarkets here, and when you do, they're often a bit old & dried out. But since the climate is not so different from Northern France, they grow quite well. So I have a couple of plants, grown from seed in my urban garden.
This year, my artichokes are coming up trumps, and delivering a second crop for 2005. So I'm waiting for the right moment to harvest & eat this delicacy. We eat them boiled, dippling the leaves into a mixture of mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar & dijon mustard.
My first encounter with the edible thistle was in San Francisco - they grow very well towards Santa Cruz & Monterey, and my hostess served them simply with freshly made mayonnaise. Unforgettable!
Artichokes are such a beautiful plant that it's not unusual to see them grown in front gardens as an architectural feature. But the owners don't harvest eat them, which seems to me to be a terrible waste. Although the flowers are also beautiful, and the seed heads are lovely rimed with a silvery frost.
Once you have managed to get a couple of artichokes growing, propagation is not a problem. One of my stalwarts was producing lots of shoots, so I took my trowel & prised off a few. Potted them up, and despite not having many visible roots, they seem to be thriving. I'll leave them in the pots overwinter, and find good homes for them in the spring. Perhaps a few architectural plants in the front garden....
Ripe Artichoke Posted by Picasa

Artichoke blossom Posted by Picasa

2 Comments:

At 10:44 p.m., Anonymous Cathy said...

Hi Urban Gardener

I know Beetroot isn't that unusual as a veggie, but we just tried growing it in the garden this year (in Carlow 2006) but it wasn't a success. Leaves got up about 20 cms but on recent checking, no beetroots! Our soil is a rather soggy acid clay, any suggestions -maybe we should grow it in our polytunnel? And I have heard that some people recommend eating the leaves - when's a good time for that, thanks

 
At 9:06 p.m., Blogger Anna Bee said...

Cathy - the lack of roots may have been due to the rather fine weather we had this summer - I have a feeling that they might need lots of water. Did you thin them sufficiently? They need space to expand. I have heard of people scraping away soil from around the roots to allow them room to grow.

But it could be your soil too. Next year, try digging in some compost to lighten the soil.
I think beetroot would bolt in the poly tunnel, so I would strongly advise against that.

All is not lost with this years crop - the current leaves are probably a bit tough for salad, but they are wonderful in soups, quiche and stir fries. (the answer to when is anytime:-))

And here's something that worked for me last winter - leave the plants to overwinter, and when the firt signs of growth start, cut back the old frost bitten leaves, and new leaves will shoot out. If you can get to these before the slugs, you will have lovely tender, and beautifully coloured leaves for salad.

 

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