With the exception of Florida (because it’s just too hot), the artichoke can be grown nearly everywhere in the United States. The artichoke is a member of the thistle family, and it’s unusual and attractive flowers make it an intriguing addition to any flower or vegetable garden. The foliage of the artichoke plant can spread up to 8 feet across and 4 feet high. That part that is the culinary delight of cooks across the country is actually the immature flower head of the plant.
While the artichoke is a perennial plant, they are not hardy north of zone 7. Those in the colder climates can grow them as annuals if they start the seeds early enough indoors and can provide them about 90 days of frost-free growing time in the garden. If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate that encourages the plant to thrive, you can expect harvests for about 5 years from the same plant. Artichokes grow best in cool, moist climates, such as what you find on the coastline of California.
It’s one of my most favorite times of the year. Fall. It’s a wonderful season. Bonfires out back…pumpkins on the porch…crisp, cool fall air. But nothing says fall to me like the smell of fresh pumpkin pie baking in the oven. There’s just something about that wonderful smell of ginger, clove, and cinnamon!
A generation ago, few gardeners grew lettuce. Iceberg lettuce was all the rage, and while it keeps forever in the fridge and ships beautifully, it is a humdinger to grow at home. These finicky plants take up to ninety-five days to mature, and they tend to bolt, or turn to seed, when temperatures rise above 70 degrees F – a challenging situation for almost any gardener.
Today, though, leaf and Romaine lettuces have made a big comeback. They are lauded for their lovely colors and textures; they also have more nutrition and flavor than most crisp head types. Best of all, they’re a cinch to grow in the backyard garden. They mature quickly, tolerate light frosts, and bear more heat before bolting. If you’ve never grown lettuce before, try these versatile, appealing crops.