Globe artichokes or Italian artichokes are members of the Compositae genus and are cultivated for their edible floral buds. Artichokes are low in calories, with only 60 calories for one medium cooked globe and fat-free. It is a natural diuretic, a digestive aid, and provides nutrition to health-promoting bacteria in the intestinal tract. Some studies suggest that fresh artichokes help control blood-sugars in diabetics and lower cholesterol levels thus warding off arteriosclerosis. Although artichokes have a high mount of natural sodium, they are still lower than most processed foods, and are also good sources of fiber, potassium and magnesium. The long, arching, spiked leaves, silver-green in color, make the artichoke look much like a giant fern. The buds, if allowed to flower, are up to seven inches in diameter and are a beautiful purple violet color. If the plant are allowed to reach their full growth they can spread to cover an area about six feet in diameter and reaches a height of three to four feet. One plant can produce up to 30 chokes of different sizes. It is grown extensively in the Mediterranean, especially Italy, France, Spain, and Greece. Chile and Argentina also have large plantings . Proper climatic conditions are extremely important in artichoke growing. Artichokes do best in a frost-free coastal area with cool foggy summers. Under such conditions the plant receives the proper vernalization (the practice of chilling young plants to produce early flowering) and the right climatic conditions throughout its growing period to produce compact, tender buds for an extended period. In ideal conditions artichokes are perennials that can produce for 10 to 15 years. It’s possible to grow artichokes as annuals in most of the continental U.S. Artichokes will always be most at home in places with long, cool summers where the ground doesn’t freeze in winter. However, with some extra care, it’s possible to grow them in other parts of the country. The globe artichoke will grow on a wide range of soils, but it produces best on a deep, fertile, well-drained soil. The plant is deep rooted and should be planted on soils that afford adequate area for root development. They are heavy feeders, need a rich soil and require copious moisture while they’re actively growing. Artichokes are prone to rot during dormancy, so free draining soil is important. Plant the seeds directly into an area of the garden where the soil is well drained. Sow to a depth of 3/4 inches between seeds. Thin seedlings to 2-3 feet after they have reached the 4-leaf stage. In climates where the ground does not freeze in winter, plant any time from April through September. In colder regions, plant as early in spring as possible, but no more than 2 weeks before the last expected frost. Plants should produce buds within 5-7 months after planting. The main propagation method for planting artichokes is with root sections attached to basal stem pieces. These cuttings which are often referred to as "stumps," are obtained from garden centers or nurseries. Artichokes thrive in the same conditions as head lettuce, but take longer to produce a crop—90 to 100 days from transplant, if all goes well. You may start seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before last frost, at 65 to 75°F (18° to 23° C). Use moist but well-drained seed starting mix. Seeds rot easily, so drainage is important. At the first true leaf stage, transplant each seedling to a 4- to 5-in. pot filled with a well-drained soilless mix. Grow on at 60-65°F (15° to 18° C), under fluorescent lights or in a bright location for about six weeks, feeding every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer diluted to quarter-strength. Plants are very susceptible to frost. Even so, at this stage it is best to move the seedlings outdoors to a cold frame or other spot where they can enjoy full sun and cool spring weather, but still be protected at night when frost threatens. Continue fertilizing and watering regularly. Like lettuce and broccoli, plants grow best at cooler temperatures, but artichokes should not be allowed to freeze. When transplanting after danger of hard frost, tip the plant out of the pot and very carefully straighten out the long tap root before planting in a hole deep enough to accommodate the root. Artichokes need deeply dug, well-composted soil with a pH of 6 to 8. Gardeners with very acid soil should add lime. Space plants about 2 ft. apart. If the soil temperature hits 85°F (29°C) three days in a row, the plants will go into summer dormancy. To prevent this, apply four inches of mulch, such as leaves or salt hay, soon after planting. On very hot days, watering thoroughly in the early afternoon can also help reduce the soil temperature. Even with mulch, the plants put on the most growth during cooler weather. Drip irrigation (or frequent watering) and a regular fertilizing schedule with a balanced product mixed at its full strength will help produce more and bigger buds. Plants will begin to produce buds in late summer, and will continue through early fall until hard frost, as long as watering and fertilizing is adequate. Buds can take a light frost, which darkens them a bit, but the whole plant will die back in a hard frost. Harvest buds before hard frost by cutting them with a sharp knife, leaving an inch or two of stem attached. Harvest when the buds have developed some size, but before bracts begin to open. In areas where the ground doesn’t freeze: Artichokes are perennials which will survive the winter, as long as drainage is excellent. Cut the plants back hard when they are hit by cold, and add mulch. If your climate gets hard freezes, invert boxes or baskets over the stump, or mulch with pine boughs. Artichokes will begin growing early in spring and are likely to produce a spring crop before summer dormancy sets in. Roots can be divided and replanted every year or two. When grown as perennials, artichokes should be spaced 3 to 4 feet apart, because they will become much larger with age. To save seeds you need to let the flower turn to a brushlike head of fluff. Either pluck out the seeds as they dry and loosen from the head or bag the whole head until thoroughly dry; then cut it from the plant and pull off the seeds. Artichokes are best eaten fresh. They can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for 7 to 10 days. They can be pickled, canned or frozen. To freeze water blanch 7 minutes. Cook, drain and pack, leaving no head space. Seal and freeze.


Pillbugs and Sowbugs

Both these species are really crustaceans that have come from the water but live totally on land. Pillbugs roll up when disturbed and sowbugs have two taillike appendages and cannot roll up. They are gray, about 2cm long and have an armored shell. There are one or two generations per year. The female carries her eggs in a pouch on her undersides for up to two months. When the young hatch they stay in the pouch for a while longer before they emerge. In the winter they become inactive and hide in dark moist places. They occasionally are active in places like greenhouses or your basement in the winter. You can find them feeding in abundance near or in your compost heap, around organic materials, rotted plants and fruit and generally moist rich organic soil. They are rarely a problem in your garden since their diet consists mostly of organic material, but they can cause major problems on your young seedlings and tender young roots. They will eat plants and roots and do most of this damage at night. They can also invade a moist dark basement. I know in the Pacific Northwest where climate is moist and cooler there is an overabundance of these guys and they can be pests.


1) Hand Pick Collect them at night or when you see them in large masses and set them free somewhere else like the woods. If you want to kill them drop them in soapy water. You can even sweep them into a dust pan and dump them over the fence or somewhere else in your yard where there is ample organic material.

2) Make a Trap Put rotted fruit under the plants they have been attacking and in the morning pick up the fruit with them on it and toss them far away.


Try herbs that can be grown indoors in the winter, then moved outdoors in spring. Ginger is a good example. It's available at grocery stores, and the fleshy roots can be grown in containers. Ginger requires partial shade, high heat and humidity and heavy watering after growth starts. Ginger root should be planted very shallowly in a fast-draining potting mix.The foliage will resemble canna leaves. Don't expect flowers unless you have a very long growing season.


Split tomato skins are the result of watering after plants have been allowed to go dry.


A cloche is an old-fashioned way to provide protection to young plants. Cloches were traditionally glass jars inverted over plants to protect them from cold weather. You can use gallon milk jugs with the bottoms cut off or mini-greenhouses made of spun fiber. Fabric cloches have the benefit of keeping insects away from young plants. Use clothespins or clips to hold the fabric to a frame. This method will protect young plants to temperatures as low as 26 degrees.



Liquorice - grow in deep well drained soil in full sun. Divide roots in spring and plant 4 inches deep and 18 inches apart. Cut down foliage annually in autumn and remove any creeping stolons. Also called licorice and sweet root.

(Common) Witch Hazel - prefers lime-free soils in full sun or light shade, may be grown as a decorative lawn specimen or among other shrubs, or trained against walls. Sow seeds in spring in trays under plastic or in a seed bed outdoors, or layer branches in autumn. Cut out suckers annually; if rooted these may be transplanted for new plants. Also called winterbloom and spotted alder.

Ivy - plants prefer rich, well-drained soil in full or semi-shade. sow in autumn, exposing the seed trays to frost over winter, or use pieces of stem bearing aerial roots as cuttings. Peg shoots to soil surface at first to encourage more rapid growth and coverage of walls. Prune in spring, trimming off old leaves and shortening or removing any unwanted straggly stems.



“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”



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