For our Nebraska climate, artichokes have to be grown as annuals because in areas north of zone 7 artichokes don’t over-winter well; if you have a protected spot in your backyard they can become a perennial. We will have to grow our artichokes as annuals, tricking them into producing heads this first year. Artichokes normally wait till the second year to produce heads, but starting them two months before the last frost keeping them inside and warm, then setting out in early spring confuses the plants. Gardeners call this vernalization, or the subjection of seeds or seedlings to low temperature in order to hasten plant development and flowering.
Today we seeded our three varieties of artichokes, green globe, purple of romagna, and rouge d’alger. The last one is actually a cardoon, a close relative of artichoke. It feels a long time from now but I am sure these two months will pass with the blink of an eye and we’ll be planting them in no time.