Lovers of artichoke plants would totally love the cardoon plant . They might not seem popular but I bet you that trend is quickly changing . Cardoons are indigenously from the northern part of Africa and they have been cultivated for many years .
This vegetable was brought into different parts of the Mediterranean regions and were hastily used for domestic and edible purposes.
Cardoons, with an artichoke-like flavor, were well liked in ancient Greek, Roman, and Persian foods and through the medieval and early modern periods in Europe.
If you have ever wondered how cardoon are grown, this article explains everything you need to know.
Let’s get started.
How do I grow Cardoon from seed?
1# Start seeds indoors
Start the Cardon seeds inside six weeks before you proceed to planting out. Use individual pots and use an honest quality seed raising mix.
2# Plant cardoon seeds
Plant the seeds a few 1/4 inch deep and cover lightly. Keep the seeds moist until germination, then gradually increase the quantity of water as the plant grows.
Transplant when the seedlings are between 4-6 inches tall. Cardoons germinate best at about 70°F to 75°F.
3# Start planting outdoors
You can transplant directly into the garden anytime after the frost, as far as you have frost free days coming ahead.The seed germination rate outdoors is fairly high.
Plant seeds at a depth of 1/4 inch deep and cover with a cloche until the seedling is well established. Thin the seedlings in order that you have one plant every 24 inches or so. At about 120 days the Cardoon will be ready for harvest if cultivated properly.
Are cardoons easy to grow from seed?
As eye catching as they may seem, cardoons are very easy plants to grow from seed. The varieties are fast selling across regions in Europe and beyond. In climate less than 21°F cardoons can be planted between April and may and will be ready for harvest in August or September.
They are similar to the artichokes and the only distinct difference is that the edible part is the stem and not the buds. Cardoons have silver like leaves usually 4 to 5 ft in height that make them a sight to behold in various gardens.
Sow them in pots in March or April and in late summer you will have superb plants. Otherwise you can grow them from cuttings or divide established clumps:
use a sharp knife to cut a section of root with a small leaf attached from the parent plant and water it in well. You can of course buy pot-grown cardoons to plant now, provided they’re watered in well.
Plant properly in pots well enriched with soil in the fall and by summer time you will have amazing plants. You can also choose to grow them from cuttings and transplant them.
In doing so, you will need a sharp knife to cut a portion of the root with a leaf from the parent plant and water carefully.
Those who think transplanting is strenuous can purchase already pots used in growing and start planting. Note, they should be watered properly.
On the whole they are trouble-free although they attract black aphids which seem alarming but hardly trouble the plant. As the summer progresses their lower leaves die back to an unsightly brown mess. I like to remove these leaves with a sharp knife and consign them to the compost heap.
These days most people grow cardoons for their visual presence, yet in Victorian times their home was in the vegetable garden.
As an edible plant they are well and truly out of fashion, yet if blanched (grown in darkness) the stems can be tasty – a combination of celery, chard and artichoke flavours.
So basically cardoons are trouble free plants. As summer nears their lower leaves begin to die and change into a brow colored mess.
Do not panic, use a sharp knife and cut the leaves and add them to the heap of compost (they serve as good compost for cardoons).
Many nowadays cultivate Cardon for ornamental or beauty purposes but in less modern times they were planted as true edible vegetables.
Blanching is a procedure not known to all. When cardoons are blanched; grown in darkness ; the stems will be very tasty bringing a variety of flavors.
When should I start cardoon?
Cardoon cultivation should begin through indoor planting during the late winter or early spring and then be transferred outdoors when you are sure the frost conditions are no more .
Fully grown Cardoon plants should be split up and planting of the offsets be carried out in the early April so as to create spaces for individual plant growth.
A few varieties of cardoons may thrive in poor or unenriched soil, but preferably they should be exposed to the right amount of sunlight and a rich soil. Cardoon seeds are usable for a period of five years from the time they are collected in spring time.
How long does it take to grow Cardoon?
Cardoon needs quite some time to grow , preferably a 100 to 120 days at least. They take time to grow as such they should be fed properly with a liquid organic fertilizer and this should be done weekly.
Such fertilizers include compost tea, liquid kelp and fish emulsion. The cardoon plant tend to dried quickly, and for you to have a bumper harvest it is important they are watered at least once a week.
Blanching of cardoons should be carried out later on in the summer time inorder to enhance the flavor and lessen the texture of the stem.
How do I save cardoon seeds?
Cardoons seeds are very easy to preserve and store. The flowers should be allowed to grow properly so as to produce the Cardoon seeds, this can be enhanced through pollination.
As a flower can pollinate another flower on the same cardoon plant. The seeds sometimes sows itself, but can be taken from the flower heads.
To preserve the Cardoon seeds, pour the in a plastic bag. Label carefully, the varieties name , the species and the time of production. Thereafter, put them in the fridge as refrigeration helps kill parasite and increase viability.
As adorable as they look in gardens, cardoons serve as source of many delicious recipes which are part of so many seasonal traditions across Europe ranging from Christmas and other festivities.
Research suggests that cardoons are rich in the B complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 , thamin and pantothenic acid which are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.
It also helps in brain development. If you haven’t thought of growing cardoons you should consider now.
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