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Artichoke

Posted 3/14/2017 6:22am by Dennis Skoworodko.

Artichokes!  

Previous to 2016 we had never grown artichokes, and did not even know if they would grow here. I did not know anyone who had successfully harvested any here so we just trialed a handful of plants to see what would happen. The “Artichoke Center of the World” is in Castorville, California, where their weather is just a little bit different than ours! They have been grown there since the 1920s, first planted by Spanish settlers who brought them from Europe. The planting of artichokes exploded there and now it is such a big deal for that area they have a 3 day Artichoke festival every year. California grows 99% of the artichokes in North America and Castorville supplies 2/3 of that. In areas with milder winters than Saskatoon, artichokes are perennials. Here the winter is far too cold for them and we have to replant them ever year. A quirky trait of artichokes is that they need to have a time of cold while they are growing to tell them they have come through winter, and that it is time to form a flower...the head that we eat is actually an immature flower bud. Because we have to grow them as an annual here, we need to make sure that the plants have 10 days or more of temperatures between +4.5°C to +10°C so they think they have gone through “winter” so they are “tricked” into flowering (a process called vernalization). So once our seedlings are well on their way we need to make sure that they have this temperature experience...either from the weather or we need to temperature control where they are if the weather does not cooperate. We were really happy with the results of the few artichokes we grew last year...and had great feedback on the taste and texture from the lucky few customers who managed to scoop some up (oh, those early birds at the market!). So we have expanded the space we have allotted to artichokes at the farm and planted the seeds this week (photo above).  

They take a long time to grow and we are hoping the success of last year will happen again this year. If all goes well, you should be able to put these in your belly late July.

Regards, Our Farm Team  

Tags: Artichoke

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