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Artichoke Violet de Provence is a purple globe variety, similar to Green Globe in habit, but with a finer flavour, and attractive large purple thistle-like flower heads.
Artichoke is best sown during the spring in modules and planted out in early summer. Cropping usually starts in the second year and plants remain productive for up to 4 years.
Sow seeds in modular trays or 7.5cm pots of seed compost, under cover during February or sow direct into seed beds at 0.5cm deep during March and April. Plants grown in pots or modules can be planted out into their permanent positions in late May or early June. Transplant the seedlings from seed beds to permanent positons during May and water well.
Growing in beds outdoors
Globe artichokes will grow in most soil types as long as it is free draining. However, the young plants will benefit from pre-prepared soil, which has been enriched with plenty of organic matter. In some cases, seed grown plants may send up suckers, which can be removed and planted as individual plants. The final spacing between plants should be 90cm apart and 90cm between the rows. They will usually grow up to 120cm-140cm in height by the second year.
Keep the area around the plants free from weeds and water well, especially during dry spells. Plants will produce flowers during their first year but these are best removed to allow the plants to become well established and strong so that they produce a bumper crop of quality heads in their second year. At the end of the first year cut back the stems and cover the crowns with mulch. Then in early spring the following year, apply a mulch of organic matter before the new stems begin to grow. The plants will also benefit from a liquid feed during the early summer months.
Harvesting & storage
Start by harvesting the main head stem first. This will encourage the formation of secondary heads, which can be harvested as they develop. It’s advisable to restrict the heads to 6 per plant in the first year of harvest, which can then be increased to 12 in the following year. After the plants have been growing for 4 years, they can be split into 2 separate plants or new plants grown from the suckers that are thrown up during the growing season. The cooked globes can be eaten on their own or as part of a recipe with artichoke as the main ingredient
Pest & diseases
Slugs and snails will attack the young growing shoots in spring so be prepared with beer traps, crushed egg shells or apply coarse grit around the crowns. Aphids can also be a problem, infesting the fresh, young globular heads. Use a jet of water to remove them or consider a biological control such as ladybird larvae. Planting marigolds nearby will encourage ladybirds and lacewing.
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