Almost no food or drink has more antioxidants than artichoke. (Came in #4 out of 1,000-plus in 2006 study.) Beat out blueberries, red wine, dark chocolate and tea. With a nice balance of nutrients, they are ideal for general health. High potassium prevents kidney stones. Folic acid supports cardiovascular health and helps prevent folate-deficiency birth defects. Contains cynarin, which triggers production of bile and aids digestion. Contains phytonutrients that help stimulate regeneration of liver cells and improve gall bladder function, both improving detoxification and digestion. Great source of fiber, which promotes smooth digestion and helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. Low glycemic index and a good source of protein with no fat. High vitamin C defends body tissues from oxidative damage of free radicals.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – C, K and B9 (Folate)
Minerals – Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese
Contains many poly-phenol-type anti-oxidants shown to reduce risks of heart disease, cancer and birth defects. Help stimulate regeneration of liver cells, reduce blood cholesterol levels and improve digestion.
How to Grow
A great addition to the garden and the dinner plate. Sensitive perennials needing moderate temperatures in winter. If winters freeze, you can treat them as annuals. Start with seeds indoors in winter or pick transplants in early spring from a quality local nursery. Avoid planting before final spring frost. Choose sunny, sheltered area of soil. Thoroughly mix in plenty of organic materials and/or fertilizer. If working with dense, heavier soils, try more organic matter to get good drainage. Plant roughly 18 inches apart. They grow up and sideways, spreading up to 5 feet by 5 feet in size. Deep beds give artichoke plants room for root growth, good drainage and high yields. Need a lot of water. Mulch the area with mature compost or manure, making sure to water on dry, hot days. In a colder climate, cut back plant in late fall and cover with a bushel basket or similar.
Damaged by a variety of slugs, which are most active feeding at night on soft plant tissues. Several ways to remove. In the evening, physically pick them off plant or soil and drop in a jar. Or cut bottom off a plastic jug and place over seedlings. As plants grow larger, use a larger plastic bottle and cut off the top, too. A dishful of beer sunk in the soil attracts them. They fall in and drown. For problem aphids, plant marigolds nearby to attract predator bugs (ladybugs and hoverflies). You can also rub off or spray off. If severe, use an organic insecticidal soap.
They like the soil just below neutral pH of 7. If pH is plus 7, add lime to bring down. When harvesting, expect 2-4 heads per plant. Cut off larger ones first, just before they open, to encourage smaller ones to grow to full size.