Globe artichokes are a tasty vegetable and also look good in the veggie patch thanks to their long stems and large buds. The silvery foliage is very attractive, which is why artichokes are often grown in herbaceous borders
The flower head is the edible part of a Globe artichoke. It has compact scales that form around a centre of silky hairs, which need to be removed before eating.
Growing artichokes in the UK is fairly easy as they will grow in most types of soil, as long as it is fertile and well drained. The plant likes a sunny, sheltered position.
Varieities of Globe Artichoke
Purple Globe and Green Globe are varieties of artichoke that are often available. If you live in the cooler north, the Purple Globe is hardier and tends to grow better.
It is easiest to buy artichoke plants in spring, rather than grow them from seed. Buy artichoke plants from a quality supplier. See Thompson & Morgan or Suttons artichoke varieties.
Planting Globe Artichokes
Prepare the soil well in advance, ideally a month or two before planting. Dig in some good garden compost or well-rotted manure. Leave to settle before raking to a fine tilth.
Plant Globe artichokes in their position outside in April.
Each globe artichoke plant needs to be spaced 3 feet away from each other for best results, as they can grow to approximately 4 or 5 feet tall.
Caring for Globe Artichoke Plants
A Globe artichoke plant will reward you with a harvest for about six years. However, the older the plant becomes, the smaller the head it produces. Therefore, it is a good idea to replace plants every four years or so.
Water Globe artichoke plants well in dry conditions.
The main stem of the plant produces the biggest head. If you limit the stems of the plant to 4-6, it means that the heads produced will be a decent size. These stems might produce a few flower buds, but take off any side shoots that develop off of these to make sure of a good crop.
Harvesting Globe Artichokes
Heads are usually ready for harvesting in June and July.
Use a knife or secateurs to cut through the stem at the base of the flower. Harvest the largest head on the main stem first. The artichoke flowers on the other lateral stems will be smaller. The stems can then be cut to approximately half their length.
How to Cook Globe Artichokes
Prepare fresh artichoke heads for cooking by removing the tough base leaves at the lower end of the head.
Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the artichoke heads. Alternatively you can put them in a steamer. The length of time it will take for them to become tender will differ depending on the size of the artichoke, and could be from 15 to 30 minutes. It is ready to eat when one of the middle leaves pulls away from the head easily.
Enjoy artichoke leaves with a variety of sauces or dressings, or just simple add a knob of good duality butter and allow it to melt over the tender veg.
Pull each leaf off and nibble. Once you get to the heart, scrape off the hairy ‘choke’ and dig in!
The flavour of fresh artichoke is amazing, so don’t be daunted by the look of this unique vegetable.