Hi all! I'm a totally novice gardener, and since buying our first home, I've gone a little nuts with planting.
I'm going to mostly perennial veggies, herbs and fruit (with some tasty exceptions...). I purchased 6 artichoke starts, thinking they would be really easy to grow considering my dad has some and he never does anything more than water it (I don't even think he eats them...anyway!).
So, I planted them right in our soil, loosening the soil beneath (we have clay soil, but it's great and loaded with worms) and creating a slight mound for each start using compost, topsoil, steer manure (composted), etc. Well, all 6 plants (they were about 4-6" tall when i got them) are being eaten alive. We have tons of slugs in our yard, so I'm thinking that's the issue, but I haven't seen many slime trails, so I'm not sure. They keep sprouting new little leaves, but those start getting chewed on too.
Two look healthy-ish (compared to the other 4, anyway).
I'm not sure what I should do at this point. Buy new starts? Try again next year?
I have enough wood to make a 5X10 cedar bed, if that will help (though then I have to fill it and our funds are kind of low at the moment). If we opt to do the cedar bed, how many plants can fit in it? 2? 3? Should I plant anything around the artichokes to deter slugs? I have a bunch of marigolds that need homes and various herbs I can take cuttings from...not sure if that will help though.
I've also sprayed with neem oil, but that didn't seem to do much of anything.
Anyone have some wisdom to share? Thanks for your time :-)
Get any compost that is acting like mulch away from them, they don't really need it, their growth habits will shade the soil beneath them.
Artichokes, being members of the thistle family don't like stuff around their bases, worst case the stem will rot, killing the plant.
Dee, some clarification please. Are you talking about globe artichokes, the thistle flower you eat, or Jerusalem artichokes, the sunflower relative with edible roots - tubers?
In either case, slugs can be a destructive problem. If you can, use natural control such as chickens or ducks to eat the slugs. If either the chickens or ducks aren't fed enough, they will also eat the tiny tender sprouts of either the globe or tuber 'chokes, so make sure they also have other food available. After the sprouts are about one foot tall, the chickens or ducks won't bother them as they will be tough enough the birds won't enjoy them.
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Thanks! I don't presently have any mulch or mulch type stuff on the mound - just soil. But all I did was just did a hole, mound some dirt and plop the starts in - so there is grass (well, weeds, really. Our lawn in clover, crabgrass, plantain and various other weeds we've yet to discover) growing around the plant. It has about a 12" diameter of soil, then grass - should I give it more space?
Nice to know it doesn't need mulch, though! I've been doing the wet cardboard/mulch thing around my trees and I'm not loving it. Looking forward to learning more about guilds!
You might need to give the grass a haircut, fairly close to the soil should help with any insects.
I have some friends that are commercial growers in Castroville, CA. (artichoke capitol of the world according to the town's signage) I helped plant 1000 acres that they took out of pasture, we were spacing plants 3' from each other in every direction.
Their main crop was Globe variety, until we planted that 1000 acres in Italian variety (smaller choke but more flowers to harvest per plant).
Slugs and aphids can be problems for small plants and sometimes for large ones. And whatever I had underground would pull the entire plant into it's tunnel. My strategy tends to be to keep planting until some do well.
Then mulch heavily around them and discourage any competing plants within a foot from the artichoke plants themselves.
They need consistent water until they are established. Even a 2 foot tall plant still needs water 2 or 3 times a week in the summer heat.
I don't have too many problems with slugs but I get a ton of ants farming aphids onto my artichokes.
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