The artichoke is a vegetable of the Compositae family, cultivated and selected since Antiquity, of Mediterranean origin. Many varieties of artichokes are known, from Romanesco artichoke to Catanese and Sardinian red, however, whether they are purple or not, the method of cultivation is always the same.
Unlike most vegetables, the artichoke is a perennial plant which, when temperatures are high, enters a dormant phase, to withstand hot, dry summers, it wakes up if it receives a lot of water. Its culture is typically winter or spring.
It is therefore not the classic annual vegetable crop that must be planted each year: the artichoke plant lasts a long time and it is a somewhat demanding but really satisfying crop. It requires a bit of a sacrifice of space, so it’s not suitable for very small gardens, but it’s certainly worth trying to grow this gorgeous edible flower.
Soil and climate suitable for artichokes
How to make an artichoke fairy
Plant artichokes in the garden
Cultivation: management of the artichoke garden in the garden
The enemies of the artichoke
insects and pests
Fungal disease of artichoke
Varieties of artichokes for cultivation
Appropriate train and climate for artichoke
earth and manure . The artichoke plant requires a soil pH between 6 and 6.5 and the ideal soil should be loose and draining. The roots of the artichoke are primary roots, so the soil preparation phase is particularly important: before planting, the soil must be worked deeply with a careful shovel, in heavy soils it is better to shovel more than once. In addition to tillage before planting in the garden, it is also necessary to prepare a good basic fertilizer, which well enriches the soil of the artichoke. For organic cultivation, natural fertilizers of natural origin are used, mature manure or compost is suitable. The soil of the artichoke must keep the humidity well, it is important especially during the harvest period, because the plant which feels the drought could go into early dormancy. At the same time, it must also be a soil that avoids stagnation of water, a source of fungal diseases that can cause rot, for example, fusarium and mildew.
Climate . The artichoke is a plant that prefers a temperate climate, temperature changes and harsh winters can damage the plant. It also needs good sun exposure.
How to make an artichoke fairy
Soil preparation. We have already talked about the importance of well-worked and well-fertilized soil for planting artichokes: tillage should, if possible, reach 40-50 cm, and this should be done both in summer and in autumn. . The fertilization of the artichoke plant, on the other hand, must be abundant, given the fact that this crop can last for several years. are needed approx. 5 kg of mature manure per square meter of field grow artichokes. If the soil in the garden is not well drained, raised beds should be made to avoid stagnation, in which case the artichoke is said to be made from trunks or pigs.
Growing artichokes in the garden
There are three methods of establishing an artichoke seedling: seeding, raising suckers, and planting eggs. The first is by far the longest method, while the other two require existing artichoke plants (yours or those you know) from which to propagate new cuttings.
- Sowing (February to May) . Like most plants, artichokes can also be sown, the ideal time to do so is between February and March in a protected nursery. If you want to plant it directly in the field, you have to sow it in the garden in April or May (depending on the climatic zone where it is grown). Those who sow in the nursery will have to transplant the artichoke seedling in May, when transplanting it they must water it abundantly and then continue to water regularly during the first weeks.
- Reproduction by suckers (March/April or September/October). Artichoke suckers, also called “carducci”, are those shoots that are taken from the base of the plant and are one year old. The carducci can be used to get new plants, propagating the crop. To do this, the suckers are cut with their root part, choosing those already developed with at least 4-5 leaves, 25/40 cm long. This operation is carried out in spring (between March and April) or in autumn (between September and October).
- Planting eggs (July and August). As we will see later, artichokes can also be bred using the eggs obtained during the diccioccatura operation. In some regions, even these eggs are called carducci, in reality the eggs are ungerminated shoots, while the carducci are already developed (suckers). To plant the eggs, the earth is moved, fertilized abundantly, and the egg is placed in the ground to a depth of 4 cm. The egg should be planted during the summer dormancy period, that is, in July or August.
sixth floor . Artichokes require space: they are planted in the garden in rows one or two meters apart, leaving one meter between one plant and another along each row. This sixth of the plantation takes into account both the size of the plant and the fact that it is a crop that lasts more than a year, it is important to provide space to spread the plant of artichoke over time.
Cultivation: managing the artichoke in the garden
Cultivation time. The artichoke lasts for several years, being the artichoke a perennial plant, it can be kept even 10-12 years in the garden. The useful period is given by the susceptibility to diseases: after a few years, it is necessary to check whether there are fungal diseases (such as fusarium or mildew) and gradually decide whether to continue or move this crop. The ideal period is 4-5 years then the artichoke is usually moved to another flower bed in the garden, this way disease and pest problems are better avoided and it is a suitable method for organic cultivation.
sleep and irrigation . The artichoke is a plant that enters a state of dormancy due to heat or lack of water, recognizing the summer period precisely because of these two conditions: high temperatures and aridity. For this reason, the plant lives in the cool periods of the year and is an excellent winter vegetable, as long as the garden is not in areas with very cold winters, which are not very suitable for this crop. To wake up the artichoke from its period of lethargy, it can be watered in summer, so that the plant reactivates earlier, thus also anticipating the production of vegetables. Frequent watering is important for the artichoke plant, whose soil should never dry out completely outside of the dormant period, when dry soil is highly desirable.
Cover. One of the most important precautions for growing artichokes is to protect them from the cold. Artichokes are afraid of frost, so after transplanting it is useful to cover them with fleece or mulch. Even afterwards, it is always useful to mulch the artichoke field during the winter to keep the roots warm. The ideal is to use organic matter which will then enrich the soil, remembering that we must avoid creating rot which can favor plant diseases. It is best to avoid mulches that are too wet, which promote rot.
In cultivation, the operations of “pruning” the plant deserve a separate chapter. These are obviously not real pruning operations, the artichoke not being a particularly structured plant, but the concept is always to eliminate parts of the plant in order to concentrate the energies on a production of good quality and good size.
The work to be done is called diccioccatura and scarducciatura of the artichoke. In the year following the transplant, new shoots and stems begin to grow at the base of the head, to avoid having a small number of flowers, excess shoots must be removed by cutting them with a knife. Shoots that are about to fall can be removed before they open (eggs) or when a few leaves have already formed (carducci).
Both ovules and carducci can be used to create new plants: propagation by transplanting ovules requires less irrigation, but if carducci is used, the plant grows faster. The diccioccatura is carried out even up to 4-5 cm below the soil surface. The scarducciatura (egg extraction) is done in autumn or winter, while the suckers are removed with the diccioccatura, which is done in summer, when the artichoke plants are almost dry.
The enemies of the artichoke
Artichoke plants can be attacked by various enemies. The worst problem is disease, which is especially damaging over the years as the artichoke plant ages. There are also animal parasites, especially mice and other insects. For the organic cultivation of this horticultural plant, it is important to learn to recognize and combat these problems with natural methods, but above all to prevent them with the appropriate cultivation method.
insects and pests
The artichoke is mainly attacked by black aphids and nocturnal larvae at insect level, while mice can be a real scourge for the artichoke.
- aphids. Like many garden plants, the artichoke also has annoying aphids that settle there and parasitize it. These lice attack the plant leaving honeydew and causing soot and are favored by ants. Artichokes are often affected by a black aphid, which persists especially in the spring. Aphids can be opposed to various plant macerates and Marseille soap.
- Night. Noctuid moths are moth caterpillars that feed on the central leaves of the plant. Measures must be taken against cutworms when they are in the larval stage with bacillus thuringensis, a product authorized in organic farming.
- Mouse . Defend the artichoke from mice: rodents eat the roots and are one of the garden artichoke’s worst enemies. The mouse mostly attacks during the winter, when alternative foods are less available.