About Green Globe Artichoke: According to historians, this member of the thistle family originated in the Mediterranean region and was especially popular in Sicilian and North African cuisine. Eventually the artichoke migrated to Italy, and when the famous Italian Catherine de Medici moved to France in 1533 to be the queen of Henry II, she took her passion for artichokes with her. Her appetite for this vegetable scandalized the people of her day, as the artichoke was considered an aphrodisiac and only eaten by men. In time, artichokes became a culinary delight only afforded by the elite. The French brought this vegetable to Louisiana, while two Italian brothers introduced it to California. California still produces nearly all of the United States' supply of artichokes, with Castroville, CA being named as the Artichoke Capital of the World. Green Globe, first appearing in catalogs in 1863, is a favorite of commercial growers.
Green Globe Artichoke Germination: Stratify seeds by putting them in sand for 2 weeks in the fridge, then start seeds indoors 2-3 months before last frost; plant them 1/2" deep, in 4" pots. Keep the seedlings at a temperature of 60-70 degrees. Once they grow several leaves, expose them to temperatures lower than 50 degrees F for at 12-20 days; this process, called vernalization, acts as a false "winter" that speeds the growing process. Transplant the seedlings outside two weeks after the last spring frost. Space them 3' apart in rows 5' apart. Direct sowing the seeds outside after last frost also is an option, though it takes the plants longer to mature and usually means your first crop will be in the spring. Direct sow the seeds about 3' apart, ½” under soil surface, and water. Artichokes can also be fall planted, especially in warmer climates, since artichokes thrive in cool weather.
Growing Green Globe Artichoke Seeds: Take care to keep the young plants moist at all times and surrounded with mulch, compost, or straw. If fungus begins to form because of too much humidity, remove the affected leaves at once. Buds should begin to form 60-120 days after transplanting, depending on growing conditions. To overwinter this plant in warmer climates such as zone 7 and above, cover it thickly with mulch. Prevent excess moisture, as this often causes artichokes to die over winter. In zone 6 and colder, it will be necessary to dig up the plants by the roots, cut the stem to 3", and store them with the roots protected in a cool place until spring. Replant them after the last frost.
Harvesting Green Globe Artichoke: If planted soon enough in the spring, artichokes should produce at least one crop before fall. Harvest them before the petals of the choke begin to open, and the size reaches about 4". Cut the heads with about 3" of the stem attached. Use immediately for the freshest flavor, or keep refrigerated for up to five days.
Saving Green Globe Artichoke Seeds: To save the seed, allow the chokes to fully develop and form flowers. Either collect seed heads when flowers turn brown, or allow seed heads to dry on plants. When heads are dry, break them open and collect the seeds. Clean and dry the seeds before storage in cool dry conditions.
Detailed Green Globe Artichoke Info: Cynara scolymus. Perennial. 85 days to maturity. 600 seeds per oz. 3-5' height. 3-5' spacing. Produces 3-5" green artichokes.