Artichoke Purple Romagna - purple flowers, Perennial vegetable
Seeds per Ounce: 500 . Artichoke Purple Romagna (Cynara Scolymus) - Bring an exotic look to your herb garden by growing Artichoke seeds! They have been grown for centuries, dating back to the Greeks and Romans. They are native to the Mediterranean area and grow in the wild. Here in the United States, Artichoke violet globe is widely cultivated and is considered to be a somewhat tender perennial.
The edible portion of the plant is the large flower bud, and each plant produces several of the buds which are 2 - 5 inches across. The heart of the bud is very tender, and there are many wonderful methods of preparation that bring out the flavors of this gourmet herb. This Artichoke herb variety produces buds that are violet in color and are known for being very flavorful. Start your herb seeds today!
How To Grow Artichokes From Seed: Start the Artichoke seeds indoors in late winter. Many gardeners recommend a chilling period for the young Artichoke herb plants with temperatures below 50F in order to produce the buds. Plant outdoors after danger of frost has passed in rich organic soil. In hot weather, give the plants deep soakings of water, watering them from the base.
To winter the Artichoke plants, cut them down to 8 - 10 inches and mulch them heavily. What grows next year will be offshoots of the parent plant.
Sowing: Stratify seeds by putting them in damp sand in the fridge for 2 weeks. Then germinate seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before last frost. Plant them 1/4" deep, in 4" pots, and 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 enhances the growing process. Transplant the seedlings outside two weeks after the last spring frost. Space them 48" apart in rows 64" apart. Direct sowing the seeds outside after last frost also is an option, though it takes the plants longer to mature. Artichokes can also be fall planted, especially in warmer climates, since artichokes thrive in cool weather.
Growing: 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, cut back on the water, and remove the affected leaves at once. Buds should begin to form about 120 days after transplanting, depending upon the climate. 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: If planted soon enough in the spring in warmer climates, artichokes might produce a small 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.
Seed Saving: 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 a cool dry conditions.