April 24, 2017

A Bit Prickly

Cynara cardunculus - artichoke

Janine Pineo Photo | Cynara cardunculus – artichoke

One wonders what possessed the first person who looked at Cynara cardunculus and said: “Hey, let’s eat that.” But it is a good thing someone did. Artichokes are a magnificent plant, with an ancient look that is not misplaced. The plant has been cultivated since the time of the ancient Greeks, who ate the leaves and the flower heads. The plant is not difficult to grow, but in Maine you need to make sure a seedling is in the ground as soon as danger of frost has passed to make sure it can develop the flower head in time for harvest. It can take about 120 days to reach maturity, which makes it a tight squeeze for our growing season. In fact, it might not have time enough in northernmost Maine, with its shorter season.