Advice for the Home Gardener
from the MGCC's Help Desk
MGCC Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk regarding your question about reducing the amount of rosettes on your artichoke plants. I was unable to find any UC research to indicate that thinning the rosettes would contribute to an increase in the production of artichokes.
The information I read about improving crop and taste had to do with cultural practices such as adding organic matter and ensuring proper watering for the plant. Artichoke plants do best in a 6.5-8 pH soil. They are heavy feeders and benefit from lots of organic matter. They like good drainage and generally do best in sun to partial shade. They require protection from prolonged frost. The pictures of your artichoke plants show that your plants look quite healthy.
There was one article I read through the UC Davis vegetable research that suggested during harvest season that the old bearing stalks could be removed to encourage the development of new shoots. The stalk was removed below the ground. The process was called “stumping”.
It was also interesting to read in several different UC resources that generally the life of an artichoke plant is about 5 years because the root area becomes crowded and the plants lose vigor.
If you would like more information about growing artichokes, below is a link to an article written about growing artichokes by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners.
Good luck with your artichoke crop!
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (JRB)
Notes: Contra Costa MG's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 608-6683, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/. MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Biog.
- Author: MaryJo Smith
Every morning, I wander around my garden. Its quiet, and the heat of the day hasn't hit yet. The plants have been watered and I like the dewy, cool, smell of moist soil when it hits my nose. This is the time that I check the plants for any overnight pests, and look at how things are growing.
Tomato production is coming to an end; the Italian Heirloom and Juane Negib varieties purchased at the CCMG Annual Tomato Sale are spent, leaving only the Stupice cherry tomatoes to slowly ripen on the vines. In spite of nocturnal assailants helping themselves to my tomatoes, there was an ample harvest for the summer table, and for canning.
The eggplants, which up to this point, have been providing a small, but steady yield, are now heavy with fruit; too much to eat right now. They will be turned into Caponata or Ratatouille for wintertime noshing.
My green beans are still managing to produce, but the plants are growing tired. Now, I'm only getting a handful of beans every few days.
I finally cleared the zucchini plants from the bed this week. The powdery mildew popping up on the leaves was a telltale sign that the season was winding down. Had the mildew appeared earlier in the season, I would have treated the plants rather than pull them.
I probably could have coaxed a few more squashes from my plants, but I opted not to. The plants produced copious quantities of zucchini and, after making zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, chocolate-zucchini cupcakes, zucchini pasta, deep-fried zucchini, zucchini sticks, zucchini salads, zucchini [fill-in-the-blank], I gave zucchini to my neighbors and friends. Once I ran out of neighbors and friends who would take my zucchini, I blanched and froze the rest. I am ready to say good-bye to the zucchini plants.
I planted an artichoke this year, and it gave us about 6-7 chokes. I've let it go to flower now, and am enjoying the magnificent showy blooms.
The final harvest of the season was from the pear tree. Last year, one lone pear hung from the tree espaliered along my side fence. This year, just over three-dozen pears graced the trained branches; not bad, considering the reduced amount of watering done as a result of the drought. The last of the pears have been picked, chilled, and are now sitting on my counter to ripen.
There is an imperceptible shifting of seasons occurring in Central Contra Costa County. Although the days are still bright and hot, the sun rises a little bit later and sets a little bit earlier with each passing day. In fact, the garden is getting over one and a half hours less daylight than it did at the beginning of June. Like the shift of seasons, I too am shifting. My excitement over the emerging crops at the beginning of the season has been replaced with impatience as I wait for the few stragglers to finish.
As September begins, with shorter days and slowly dropping temperatures, I am ready to say good-bye to my warm season crops and move on to planning my winter garden. How fortunate that nature is so accommodating to my attention span.