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Georgia Artichokes

March 12, 2012

Two seasons ago I tried to grow artichokes from seed here in N GA. The seeds are difficult to germinate and my choice of location was a bad one (a Tommy-Toe plant from hell smothered them both).
End result: 1 puny artichoke and a frozen root crown (aka a dead artichoke plant) in the cold winter than followed.

I saw that the crowns can be dug and shipped early in the spring in order to get a jump on production so I decided to give it a shot again. One of my favorite suppliers, Peaceful Valley Farm & GArden Supply, aka Groworganic.com had the crowns listed as a seasonal item when I noticed them last fall. Unfortunately this winter I waited too late to order and Peaceful Valley was out, so I thought I had missed out again this year.

A few weeks ago I found a boutique grower of artichoke plants (The Sweetheart Artichoke Company) who had some 2nd year crowns for sale. She seemed a bit off the wall (artichoke crazy really) but quite knowledgeable, so I immediately liked the idea of ordering from her. In some businesses this is a red flag but my experience with garden type people it is actually the opposite; the more obsessed they are with their specialty “crops” the better. This worked with Onalee’s last year with my lufa gourd seeds, so why not give Gail @ Sweetheart Artichokes a chance this year?

So I ordered two for the whopping price of $16 and forgot about them until last week when an odd triangular box arrived.

Upon opening it, I discovered two live artichoke plants ready for prepping and getting into the ground:

I had some work to do before the space was ready.

My plan is to place one in the northern end of one of the big beds in the way back that I plan to cover with a hoop house again next year for freeze insurance. The second will go into a new bed up front near the raspberries. In the meantime Gail (Ms Sweetheart Artichokes) emailed me very specific instructions and referred me to the informational section of her website.

I prepped the plants in potting soil and put them in a sheltered location (the long ladder shed) for a week or so of acclamation. It is sheltered from the wind but well vented and the floor doesn’t get much in the way of direct sunlight through the clearish roof panels.

The bed is complete now but for some reason I missed the opportunity to photograph it. The foot print is visible in the picture below (of the large Rosemary bush I transplanted recently, but that story is another post for another day):

I dug it out a bit including a deeper clay and churt busting basin where I will plant the artichoke. I replenished this basin with some of the original soil plus a mix of composted manure and bonemeal. The wide end of the bed is where the ‘choke with go; the narrower end will catch something complementary. In case anyone is wondering, the bed is being moved from outside the fence (used in prior years for garlic and lettuce) and modified to fit this angled setting. There was a shade issue in the summer where the bed was, plus on two occasions someone walking down the alley pulled up garlic plants just to see what they were. (Who does that kind of thing??????)

We’ll see, maybe this year will be better. Maybe my new best artichoke friend Gail will chime in. 😉

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2012 7:36 am

    I checked out her site and must agree that she takes a great deal of care with her plants. I am sure you will be rewarded this year with healthy plants!

  2. Namastemama permalink
    April 17, 2012 10:15 am

    Do you have a special tool to remove sod? We have been building some beds just with an edger and a shovel.

    • April 17, 2012 12:37 pm

      Small amounts i just use a short flat end spade like these and a longer flat end once i get it started. I cut the outline with the short spade and get the sod pried up a bit then just lever it up. I super smother the space with 2-3 heavy layers of cardboard then install the bed.

      For a large amount I rented a sod cutter for a few bucks at Home Depot and cut a 22×22 square out in about 30 minutes (plus a half a day to move it ugh).

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