HEIRLOOM If you like artichoke hearts, you will love cardoons! Much easier to grow than artichokes in our short seasons, each massive leaf stalk melts in your mouth like an artichoke heart. (Though we’ve successfully grown artichokes here for years, once we tasted how divine cardoons were and how much easier they are to grow, there’s no going back.) Start them indoors when you start your tomatoes and by fall you’ll savor a small hedgerow of the melt-in-your-mouth artichoke-esque magic.
Growing 3 to 4 feet tall, Cardoon’s silvery leaves are deeply serrate and so dramatic: you’ll be delighted you grew cardoons for months before you harvest their stalks like massive, delectable (if slightly spiky) celery (they are in the thistle family, after all)! To savor cardoons, peel their spiny midribs (the leaves are a key ingredient for homegrown bitters) and blanch. From there, our imagination is the limit. We love to marinate and toss them on salads as artichoke hearts; simmered in broth with garlic and herbs is a sumptuous autumn supper; slathered in bread crumbs and fried is absolutely divine.
A perennial in Zones 6-10, Cardoons go to seed in their second season, becoming 6+ foot tall spires in Seussian purple-blue flowers. We’ve been overwintering them in our high tunnels to grow regionally adaptive seed to share and hope you get to see them in full flower here on the farm one day!
|50 Seeds||$4.45||In stock|
|100 Seeds||$7.55||In stock|
|200 Seeds||$14.25||In stock|
Planting Method: Transplant Only
When to sow: ~6-8 weeks before last frost
Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
Days to Germination: 10-21 days at 70–80°F (21–26°C)
Sowing and seedling care: Sow 2-3 seeds per cell or soil block. Thin to 1 per block, pot up to 4-inch containers as soon as roots extend beyond block.
When to transplant: Harden off & transplant into fertile soil. Optional blanching: gather stalks in late summer/early fall, tie upright with twine, wrap with black & white newsprint to exclude sunlight 3-4 weeks as the weather cools.
Plant spacing after transplanting: 2′ Sun Needs: Full
Days to Harvest: 95-100
Height: 3-4 feet
Harvest…and cook!: ~ Peel the stalks of their spines and thorns (remember, they’re in the beautiful yet spiky thistle family!) on the side of each stalk using a paring knife. Cut the cardoons into ½ inch pieces and blanche to tender yet firm. From here, the sky is the limit! Marinate and toss them on salads as you would artichoke hearts; simmer them in broth with garlic and herbs for a sumptuous autumn supper; slathered in bread crumbs and fried is absolutely divine!