There are two major varieties of artichokes – globe artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes. Globe artichoke are the bur, or flower bud of the artichoke plant, while Jerusalem artichokes are roots, similar to potatoes.
A deep and rich sandy soil, mixed with a generous helping of a well-rotted manure, is the ideal soil for the globe variety of artichoke. Start this plant indoors, about the time that the soil is beginning to warm and is dry enough for planting. Once the seedlings have grown three or four true leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden.
For row-style planting, artichokes should be placed in rows about 3 feet apart, with 2 foot spacing between each plant. In most warmer locations, artichokes are planted as perennials, so if you are in such a climate, keep this in mind when selecting a spot in the garden.
Globe artichokes normally don’t produce until the second year of growth. Once your artichoke garden bed is established, you can expand, or replace ill-producing plants, by transplanting the side shoots from the base of the plant.
The bur, or flower part, is the part used, and they should be gathered before the blossom appears. If the burs are regularly gathered, and not let go to flower, the plant will continue producing throughout the season.
This pretty garden plant is more forgiving than its globe cousin. The Jerusalem artichoke will grow well in any good garden soil. They should be planted further apart, with three or four feet between each plant on all sides. When planting, you can plant three or four small tubers in each “hill” planting. If you’re using large tubers, you should cut them, similar to when planting potatoes.
Jerusalem artichokes should be planted as soon as the soil is warm in the spring. A pint of tubers cut to 1-2 eyes per piece will plant about 30 hills. Ready for harvesting about October, in most climates, these artichoke can remain in the ground throughout the winter, harvested only as needed.