Botanical Name: Cynara scolymus
How to grow it:
Globe artichoke is a perennial thistle to about 1.5 metres that it is grown for it’s immature flower buds. It is a very attractive plant for it’s large blue green leaves. if the plant is allowed to flower (that’s not going to happen if you like the buds for food), it has very pretty bright purple flower heads.
It has a fairly wide climactic range, though might need to be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Needs protection from frost. Does well in sun or part shade.
It’s best to give globe artichoke well drained, fertile soil. It will handle some dry periods, but doesn’t like heavy soils or bogs. Mulch and fertilise well.
Get seeds or seedlings for globe artichoke – they’re very easy to start like this and you’ll have access to a greater variety. You can also take root divisions and root cuttings from mature plants, but seeds are easier.
Will grow in pots, but the flowers are somewhat stunted. I think Globe artichoke prefers a bit of room to move.
A highly nutritious vegetable – high in potassium, calcium and iron and good levels of vitamins A, B, C, magnesium & phosphorous.
Using it in the kitchen:
Young shoots of the plant can be eaten as a vegetable either boiled or steamed on their own, or added to curries & casseroles.
The delicious part though, is the heart of the flower bud. Often it is trimmed and then boiled or steamed (it is nice to then use the hearts on pizzas!), but I think it’s best prepared as a roasted vegetable.
Don’t worry about trimming it, just put the whole buds on an oven tray, and drizzle some oil (infused with garlic and rosemary is good), and slow roast them for about 1-1.5 hours. Then when you eat it, you’ll get plenty of “meat” from the petals and the heart is deliciously tender.
Globe artichoke is a great survival plant for it’s delicious vegetable and for it’s hardiness. As it’s such a pretty plant, it could easily be grown amongst your ornamental plants for it’s foliage, and then the flower buds can be harvested, or left for a gorgeous flower display.