Hi folks. My wife is telling me I am obsessing, but my artichokes are runts. They are Green Globe variety and should be at least 3-4 feet high by now. They (6) are only about 10". The outer leaves look good, then a new set will start in the center, the outer drop dead. The plants get good sun, good water and are fed with an organic seaweed fertilizer once a month. These were started from seeds that came from different packs, not sure about the lot numbers.
Anyone want to venture a guess at what is going on?
When did you plant them? They need an early start.
"Start artichoke seeds indoors in late winter, under bright florescent lights. The large seeds will germinate within a week at warm room temperatures, and seedlings should be potted into larger containers as they grow. Six weeks before your last frost date, start hardening off seedlings by gradually exposing them to bright sun, wind and cool temperatures.
Set artichoke plants out in prepared beds 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost date. Exposure to cool temperatures below 45 degrees is necessary to trigger flowering. Before transplanting artichokes, enrich each planting hole with a balanced organic fertilizer, and space plants 3 feet apart.
Globe artichokes have average fertility needs, similar to those of tomatoes. In areas where artichokes are grown as perennials, container or bare-rooted plants can be set out in spring. When setting out artichoke seedlings, plant them slightly high, so that the crown is well above the soil line."
Anne has given the standard advice for choke growing, while this is very sound advice it may help to know how these are grown in Castroville, CA. "The artichoke capitol of the world".
The soil in Castroville is rich loam and close enough to the sea that there is always some breeze and evening fogs roll in regularly. In this location the plants are perennial and produce for about 7 years before they are pulled and replaced.
The early start mentioned by Anne is one of the keys to growing good new artichoke plants. If you don't want to start them indoors or in a green house then you will need (or want) heavy row covers to hold in the suns heat while starting the seeds in late January or early February.
Starting them under row covers eliminates the need for hardening off, since they are already in their home spot. On warmer days after they have sprouted you can lift the cover sides up for better air circulation.
The best soil for artichokes is very deep (1.5 feet), humus rich (25%), well draining (sandy) top soil.
One of the best types of fertilizer's for artichokes is also for tomatoes, if you are going to use a commercial type of fertilizer that is.
Soil that has been amended with good compost and well composted cow manure or sheep manure will produce near perfect plants that will produce quite well.
If you notice yellowing tips of the leaves then an addition of green sand or kelp will be beneficial to the production rate. Artichoke plants will normally produce at least 5 flowers per season.
If you have winter weather temps near 35 f. then you will need to use a blanket cover to protect them from frost kill.
This is one plant that tolerates slightly salty soils so you could give them a watering of sea water ( a good, mineral rich, sea salt dissolved at 2 TBS per gal. once a month will not hurt them and will give them better flavor)
Artichokes do best when spaced 3 ft. to 4 ft. apart, these plants tend to not do well if crowded, they need air flowing around them.
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It is likely your problem is your summer heat in Tucson, AZ. Globe artichokes prefer cool summer temperatures (think coastal California where most American artichokes are grown), so the plants suffer in your hot summer. Here in upstate SC, where my summer temps run almost uniformly in the upper 90's F, my artichokes growing under 30% shade cloth do much better than those growing out in full sun (many of which don't survive the summer).
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