Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Seeds are Arriving!

It's so exciting to open up the mailbox and find a parcel of seeds - a sure sign of spring! So far, 2 out of the 3 seeds orders that I placed have arrived and I've been busy trying to organize what needs to be planted and when! I typically start about 12 flats of veggies, herbs and annual flowers indoors under my lights. I wish I had more space, because I could easily double that..

At this time of the year, it's a bit early to start most transplants, but certain veggies, such as artichokes should soon be seeded. Yep, I said artichokes!

It might sound funny to think about growing artichokes in the Canadian Maritimes, but last year we harvested some delicious, tender artichokes in the garden in late July. This year, I'll be growing 'Imperial Star', which is a revolutionary artichoke that can be 'fooled' into producing the first season. It's often called an annual artichoke and will produce its edible buds about 90 days after transplanting.

The secret to getting 'Imperial Star' artichokes to produce their tasty buds is to set out the transplants in mid-April - or when the outside temperature is above freezing, but below 10 C. You can place them in a sheltered area such as a protected corner, a coldframe or an unheated greenhouse, but cover them if temperatures dip below freezing. After a few weeks, the plants think that they have gone through a winter cycle and when transplanted into the garden in early June, they consider themselves to be 2nd year plants.

By mid-summer, you should be able to start harvesting homegrown artichokes! By the way, the plants themselves are very pretty and can grow quite large - up to 4 feet across and tall.. although, I find that mine never really exceed 3 feet.

Happy Gardening!

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