When Growing Artichokes In The Desert
Start In The Fall
Starting Artichokes From Seed
It all started when my husband put out seeds for our winter garden. Being new to the area and desert gardening we did not know what would grow or what wouldn’t. So he planted what we had including a packet of 3 or 4 Artichoke seeds. I didn’t know that he planted the Artichoke seeds, until they began to get big…
Artichoke Seeds Germinate Best
We found that the Artichoke seeds germinate best after going though a cold winter of being in the ground. We did not know at the time, that Artichokes were a cool season crop, because we had seen them growing in our area, in front yards. We learned by trial, when Harvey planted them for the winter garden when they did not come up until spring…
That first spring we got about 3 or 4 small Artichokes that tasted so good, they were as good as any of the larger ones we purchased from the store…
Vernalization is what it is called when plants need to go through a period of cold before they produce fruit or its crop. Artichokes usually require two years of growth before they produce buds, but if you trick them into thinking (thinking?) that two seasons have passed by exposing the plant starts to 2 weeks of cold or vernalization you can get a small crop the first year… Similar to what we did accidently by planting the seeds in the fall…
Artichokes are Perennial, Perennial plants live more than two years, compared to Annuals that complete their life cycles in one year and Biennials that complete theirs in two (I had to look that up to be sure I said it right).
Choosing A Location
Because Artichokes are Perennial, they could potentially be around for a long time, be sure to choose a location that you can devote to years of growing Artichokes.
We found that our first attempt at growing Artichokes ended up with diseased plants and not know what it was we dug them up and replanted from seed in another spot a few years later. I guess we put them in a better location the new Artichokes have not become diseased as our first plants did, and are in their second year of growth.
I might mention this location gets half a day of sun, at noon or so the house begins to block the direct sun covering the bed with shade. I hope that if we move them we don’t break our special sauce for growing them, there is only so much space in our yard that gets shade early in the afternoon, and this was one of them.
In the past I have tried growing with shade cloth, and might have to pull it out when we move the Artichoke bed to a larger area, we will see next year, I will update if we need to use the shade cloth.
Preparing Your Soil
Maybe you noticed, we planted our Artichoke seeds in raised beds. Because of the poor soils here we built several raised beds to grow food. All of the beds were amended with manure and compost, that Harvey dug into the soil a foot or two deep and mix together well. If you go by the growth and appearance of the plants the soil seems to be a good blend.
We did not know or realize how big the Artichoke plants would get when we planted them, but now I wish we had put them in larger beds, hopefully, we can get them moved next year.
University Of Nevada Las Vegas Video
Below, I found a video from the University of Nevada Las Vegas that shows what they do to grow luscious Artichokes in the Desert. I wish I had found it sooner… Live & Learn, Right?
Our Big Harvest
It wasn’t that big, but for us it was huge. These beauties below grew in the second year, and as we picked them more grew. We did not get all we could eat, but it was a good start.
When the temperatures got hot they stopped producing, we might have slacked off on the water too soon, because the plants began to dry up and the chokes flowered, but did not develop the seeds that I was so hoping for… My guess was that it did not have enough water to seed properly…
Even though our Artichokes dry up above ground the roots underground are still viable, and will grow new plants next year. When the weather cools down and your plants are dormant you can dig up the roots and divide them to make new plants, we have not done that but hope to do so next year.
Hope For You
I hope this post will encourage you to try growing Artichokes in the Desert… It is not hard if you start them from seed when they can go through the winter cold, then plant them in soil that has been amended with compost and manure, in a location with direct sun till about noon… At least this has been our recipe for growing Artichokes in the desert heat…
Growing Artichoke Links
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