Multi-Tasking Artichokes

The humble artichoke is fast becoming one of my favorite plants to grow in the garden.  I love how quickly it grows, filling in empty spots.  Also, because it is a perennial plant it has tremendous staying power!  Artichokes do not have to be hidden away in the backyard vegetable garden.  They look beautiful, up front, as  border plants,  or even as specimen plants in a mixed garden bed.  If  you have fruit trees (especially plums), they work wonderfully well as a part of a permaculture planting guild when planted around the base of the trees.  As the big leaves die and shed, they make a wonderful mulch and, later, composting material for the trees.  And let’s not forget the fine flavored, tasty treats these beauties provide!  At our homestead, we love to eat them steamed and drizzled with a bit of melted butter mixed with fresh chopped garlic, chives, and lemon juice (Now that we’re eating more healthy, I need to find a  replacement for the fat in the recipe — any suggestions?).

The month of May is perfect, here in the Central Valley of California, for starting artichoke seedlings indoors to plant out in July.   It’s amazing to me that, for just a few dollars, you can produce hundreds of seedlings to plant out all over your gardens, or share with family and friends. Once again, my favorite source for purchasing heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They have a nice selection of artichokes — my favorites are the Green Globe and Purple of Romagna.

Artichokes, I think, provide one of the greatest bangs for your buck in the garden by providing you with permanent beauty,  an fresh source of nutritious food (artichokes are high in fiber, and vitamin C), and a rich source of mulching/composting material for the rest of the garden. They are great multi-taskers!

Are you growing artichokes in your garden?  If so, where are some other “non-traditional” areas that you might grow them?  If not, why not purchase a pack of seeds and get started growing some today!

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