Several years ago, neighbors who shared my courtyard garden space grew an artichoke plant in the lone patch of clay soil. When it didn’t bear them any artichokes, they uprooted it and gave up. I later learned that artichokes can take two years to produce. About three years ago, I planted an artichoke in the front yard. The first year, nothing. The plant withered and died. I thought the experiment was over and pulled the plant from the ground. The next winter, to my absolute delight, it grew back, this time much larger and gave me three valiant little artichokes. This year, the plant has grown to Little Shop of Horrors proportions without any attention whatsoever. It gets full morning sun and late afternoon shade and is watered by lawn sprinklers. I like to think it is happy there. When I back out of the driveway in my car, I roll down the window to say hello and admire it’s full leaves. So far, six artichoke heads have popped up out of the center of the giant bush. I can’t wait to eat the first one soon!
It is time to put new artichoke plants in the ground. If you are interested in growing your own monster artichoke plant, pick a plot of earth that gets full sun and is large enough to permit a 4-5 foot plant without shadowing other plants. As far as I can tell, make sure it gets some water now and then and ignore it for a few years, and voilá, artichokes.