Artichoke-flavored leaf stalks.
The leaf stalks and midrib of cardoon have a similar flavor to artichoke when boiled (not for eating raw). Both portions are commonly used as a side vegetable, addition to stuffing, or in soups and stews. Cardoon must be blanched before it can be eaten. To blanch, tie the stalks up firmly and wrap with black plastic or black and white newspaper. If left unharvested, the 3-4′ tall plants will produce large purple, thistle-like flowers. The sharply lobed and serrated silver-green leaves are a unique addition to flower arrangements. Spineless plant. Perennial in Zones 6-10. Avg. 11,600 seeds/lb. Packet: 25 seeds.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cynara spp.
CULTURE: Artichokes and cardoon require very fertile, well-drained soils with a pH of 6.5-7.0. Sow artichokes indoors 8-12 weeks before last spring frost date. Cardoon is more vigorous and can be started later, 6-8 weeks prior to last frost date. Plant 2-3 seeds per cell in plug trays or individual containers 1/4" deep. Germinate at 70-80°F (21-26°C). As soon as seedlings can be handled, transplant to 4" pots or 1½" cell-type containers and grow at 60-70°F (15-21°C) day and 50-60°F (10-15°C) night. Transplant 6- to 12-week-old plants to the field 2-3′ apart in rows 4-6′ apart.
IMPORTANT COLD TREATMENT (VERNALIZATION): Time transplanting so plants receive 10 days of 45-50°F (7.2-10°C) temperatures to induce budding. Protect from frost.
HARVEST: Clip mature buds midsummer to midfall, depending on location.
MILD AREAS: Where winter low is above 14°F (-10°C), sow seeds in fall, harvest in spring.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/LB.: Avg. 11,500.
BLANCHING: Gather stalks in late summer or early fall, tie upright with twine, and wrap with black plastic or black and white newspaper to exclude sunlight. Blanch for 3-4 weeks during the cooler weather of early fall.
HARVEST: Harvest after blanching, cutting at the base of the stalks to keep intact.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/LB.: Avg. 11,600.
DAYS TO MATURITY: From transplant.
PACKET: 25 seeds, unless otherwise noted.