Artichokes are part of the thistle family of plants. Artichokes can be successfully grown in a wide array of climates; however, it is important to grow the proper variety for your climate in order to be successful.
There are many varieties of artichokes including: Baby Anzio, Big Heart, Mercury, Omaha, Green Globe and Imperial Star. Growing artichokes from seed does take some time. You must begin your seeds 12 weeks before you plan on planting them outdoors. If you live in a mild climate where the temperature does not drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit then you may plant your artichokes in the fall.
Plant the artichokes in an area that receives full sunlight and where they will not interfere with other plants as artichokes can grow to 5 feet high or more. Artichokes require space to grow. Space them about 4 feet apart.
Soil is also another important consideration when planting artichokes. Artichokes produce best in phosphorous and potassium rich soil that is between 6.5 and 7.0 in pH. Once you get your plants established it is important to mulch them in well as artichokes require the soil to be kept rather wet.
Artichokes typically do not produce in the first year that they are planted. Harvest your artichokes before the flower bud blossoms while it is still tight and green typically the days to maturity are approximately 100. If you are going to over winter your artichokes in the ground it is vital to place a thick layer of straw over them as insulation. Heavy frost can kill off your artichokes.
Artichoke Nutritional Values
Serving Size 1 artichoke (56g edilble portion)
Total Fat 0g 0 %
Cholesterol 0mg 0 %
Sodium 70mg 3 %
Total Carbohydrates 6g 2 %
Dietary Fiber 3g 12 %
Vitamin A 2 %
Vitamin C 10 %
Calcium 2 %
Iron 4 %
Potassium 180mg 5 %
Artichoke Health Benefits
Artichokes are a good source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber. The compound cynarin found in the leaves of the artichoke have been found to have health boosting benefits for the liver. The compound silymarin found in artichokes may also play a role in liver health through its antioxidant properties. The artichoke also contains a compound which helps to lower blood fat levels by increasing bile production in the liver.
The 16 essential nutrients are found in artichokes making it a nutrient dense while not a calorie dense food.
Getting the Most Out of Your Artichoke
Artichokes are wonderful cooked from fresh. The simplest ways to enjoy a fresh artichoke is to steam or boil it then enjoy the leaves and heart dipped into a variety of sauces.
Artichoke hearts also are available frozen and canned both of which work well in recipes. Frozen is the next best choice nutrition wise with canned having the lowest amount of nutrients preserved.
Concerns and Cautions
The edible portion of the artichoke is the heart which is actually the flower base. It is important to not eat the inedible fuzzy choke that covers the heart.