Creating a Choke Point in the Garden


More out of curiosity than need, I planted a small artichoke plant in a large pot a couple of years ago, where it has sat forlorn and ignore...

More out of curiosity than need, I planted a small artichoke plant in a large pot a couple of years ago, where it has sat forlorn and ignored in the shade of a tree. Each year it would produce a formidable bud (the edible part) and later a beautiful flower. But the plant was so ignored, I can't find a single photo of the flower. Trust me, it is a beautiful thistle.

Cooking an artichoke is easy, but eating it is a lot of work. Peeling the leaf, dipping in savory butter, and then scrapping the base of the leaf on your incisors to get a small morsel of food is nowhere near as satisfying as seeing the flower. Perhaps my rustic pallet has not been trained to appreciate the experience, however, I can remember the first time I ate one, December 31, 1971. Maybe that should count for something. Since then I have only eaten artichoke leaves two more times, one of those times was in Castroville, California.

My California Master Gardener book recommends planting only four plants in your garden for a family of four. I would say that the writer had a similar appreciation as I do for the culinary status of the artichoke.

I decided to give the artichoke a new home. The plant had created a tangled ball of roots near the surface.

As can be seen in the photo, there were three stalks (with flowers!) last year. I used a sharp blade and separated the ball into three stalks. 

This is the usual method for artichoke propagation and should be done when the plants are dormant. My artichoke was either dormant or very dead. Time will tell.

I planted the three stalks about a foot apart, which is probably too close to each other, but after all, I am creating a choke point. That and the fact that Riverside, California is not the artichoke capital of California so I am pushing the survival limits of the plant. The artichoke capital for the US is Castroville, California in Monterey County, nearly 400 miles away from Riverside. The artichoke requires foggy and cool summers. While we do have that weather in June (as in "June Gloom") the rest of the summer is hot and dry. 

The stalk has a new home in the ground

Castroville is perfect for artichokes. Nearly every artichoke eaten in the United States comes from Castroville. The US consumption is about one artichoke per person per year which is probably why you only need one plant per person in your household for your home garden. 

Even if you don't like artichokes, the flower is pretty! 

You can follow the progress of the artichokes here: Choke Point

Do you have a recipe that will make me fall in love with artichokes? Please share it as a comment below.



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At Home and Away: Creating a Choke Point in the Garden
Creating a Choke Point in the Garden
At Home and Away
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