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Artichokes

The artichoke, a member of the thistle family, has been cultivated and enjoyed since the time of the Romans. Artichoke is both a nutritious vegetable and a beautiful landscape plant. Plants can reach 3 feet in height and width, and the flower, if allowed to bloom, can be 7 inches in diameter.

Soil preparation

Globe artichoke produces best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil, but will grow in a wide range of soils. The plant’s deep roots need relatively deep soils with adequate volume for root development. Sandy soils with excessive drainage should be avoided.

Although artichokes are moderately salt tolerant, soil with a high salt content will reduce their growth and yield.

Varieties

Several varieties work well for Texas gardeners, including:

  • Green Globe (standard variety)
  • Imperial Star (less vigorous than Green Globe)
  • Harmony
  • Madrigal
  • Emerald
  • Grand Beurre
  • Talpiot
  • Purple Sicilian (purple globe)

Emerald is about 2 weeks earlier than Imperial Star and appears to need little, if any, vernalization (chilling). Emerald, Grand Beurre, Talpiot and Purple Sicilian are all grown from seed. The Purple Sicilian variety is fairly tolerant of heat and cold.

Seed preparation

Plan before fall planting because it can take up to 60 days before plants are of suitable size for planting outside. In Central Texas, artichoke is transplanted in mid October, which means seeds must be started in mid-August. In North and West Texas, start seeds a few weeks earlier.

Seeds can easily be started in a greenhouse, in a shady spot outside in late summer, or indoors under a grow light. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep in potting mix when the temperature doesn’t exceed 85 degrees F. Water seeds regularly and shade them from the hot afternoon sun.

Fertilizing

Artichokes grow well when fertilized regularly. It is best to have your soil tested and amend the soil according to the test results and recommendations. If a soil test is not done, follow these general recommendations:

  • If manure is available, mix 100 to 140 pounds of composted manure per 100 square feet into the soil before planting.
  • Phosphorus and potash are best applied before planting and should also be worked in. Apply about 0.25 pound of P205 and 0.25 pound of K2O per 100 square feet.
  • Artichokes require about 0.1 pound of nitrogen (N) per 100 square feet. Work it into the soil before planting, and apply an additional 0.3 pound per 100 square feet 6 to 8 weeks later.
  • Foliar applications of a liquid fertilizer containing calcium and zinc are recommended every 2 weeks during active growth in early spring.

Planting

Transplant seedlings 2½ to 3 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Transplants grow slowly in the fall and winter (October through January), but in early spring artichoke plants will rapidly increase in size. Artichoke should be planted in a well-drained soil and mulched well to help reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture.

Care during the season

Do not expose artichokes to temperatures below 25 degrees F in the winter. If there is a threat of frost, cover plants with a 6-inch layer of straw mulch, leaves, a bucket or frost blanket, or some other form of frost protection.

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A hot, dry climate causes artichoke buds to open quickly and destroys the tenderness of the edible parts. In the summer, irrigation will help keep temperatures down in the crop canopy to prevent bud opening.

Watering

Artichokes are deep-rooted and require adequate moisture when growing and producing fruit. Moisture stress may result in black tip, which is only cosmetic damage because the edible portion of the bud is not affected. Black tip is most common when conditions are sunny, warm and windy.

Diseases

Powdery mildew, Verticillium wilt, and botrytis rot are common during rainy weather. Curly dwarf virus and bacterial crown rot are other artichoke diseases. Leave plenty of space between plants to reduce the chance of diseases becoming a problem. If you have trouble with diseases, ask your county Extension agent about disease control.

Artichokes are susceptible to root rot, so do not let the soil become too wet.

Insects

Weeds

Mulching artichokes will reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture. It is important to remove weeds when artichokes are small because the plants are most susceptible to weed competition at this stage. Large, fully developed artichoke plants compete well with weeds.

Harvesting

A healthy plant should produce six to nine buds per plant. The main harvest usually occurs in April and May. Select buds for their size, compactness and age. All buds of suitable size should be harvested by cutting the stem 2 to 3 inches below the base of the bud. Old stems should be removed as soon as all buds have been harvested to allow new stems to grow.

Serving

Artichoke is a great source of fiber and can be steamed, boiled or microwaved. The edible parts include the flesh of the base of the leaves and the heart of the flower. Rinse leaves and cut off the sharp tips, about ¼ inch, before cooking. Ask your county Extension agent for more information on preparing and serving artichoke.

Cleanup

Artichoke is a perennial plant so once the harvest is done in June, cut the plant back to soil level. This will put the plant crown into a dormant stage during the summer. The plant will send out shoots in the fall. The new shoots can be dug out to be replanted into a new location in the garden or left in place to produce another year. Make sure you leave only the most vigorous shoot on the old plant for production next spring.

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Do Not Seed in Spring Because of Pre-emergent

Whether your lawn is a small patch of grass or several acres, it’s important to take care of it properly to keep it healthy all year long. The pros at Loyalty Lawn Care know the tips and tricks to keep your lawn green. But what about grassy weeds like crabgrass and foxtail? These pesky plant pests can overtake an otherwise healthy lawn and cause problems aside from the obvious visual concerns. The best way to ensure that these grassy weeds don’t ruin the look or health of your lawn is to use pre-emergent.

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What is pre-emergent?

Often used alongside fertilizer, pre-emergent is not fertilizer itself. Instead, it is an herbicide that works to prevent grassy weed seeds from germinating. The reason that it is used in conjunction with fertilizer is because the latter is an effective carrier agent for the pre-emergent to bind to. This product is often referred to as weed and feed.

Should I add pre-emergent to my newly seeded lawn?

In a word, no. Because newly seeded lawns are still germinating, the pre-emergent can affect germination in the process. More mature lawns are sturdier against the herbicide, so it’s best to wait at least 4 months after planting the lawn to apply the pre-emergent. If you are unsure about the best timeline to follow for your lawn, don’t hesitate to reach out to Loyalty Lawn Care with your questions.

When should I apply pre-emergent?

Like many things when it comes to your yard, pre-emergent has seasonality to it. It’s most ideal to apply a pre-emergent herbicide before the temperature of the top 4 inches of soil reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 5 days in a row. This translates to daytime highs of the upper 60’s to mid-70s for the same amount of time. We recommend considering a pre-emergent application in the late winter to early spring to maximize its effectiveness.

Every pre-emergent product is a bit different, but you can expect a single treatment to last approximately 3-5 months.

Can I overseed after applying pre-emergent?

While it is best to over seed in fall, after applying your preemergent, it’s important to give your lawn some time to for the product to lose its effectiveness before moving on to the next step. Therefore you shouldn’t be overseeding immediately after applying this herbicide – it’s best to wait at least 4 months between. If you must seed sooner some detailed prep work must be completed to assure you have a quality seed bed that won’t be harmed by the pre-emergent herbicide.

Have more questions about your lawn and the intricacies of keeping it green? Contact Loyalty Lawn Care with all your lawn care questions today.

How Many Days Do You Have to Wait Before Seeding After Weed & Feed?

Weed and feed fertilizers are often used in combination with seeding. Weed and feed formulations consist of two components: a herbicide to kill weeds and a fertilizer to strengthen the turf. The herbicide will weaken the grass as well as the weeds and the fertilizer will strengthen the weeds as well as the grass. When applying seed over a weed and feed application, remember that some weed and feeds can prevent grass seeds from growing.

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Types of Herbicide

It’s important to know a little about herbicides so you can make the best choice for when to apply seed in an area that has been treated for weeds. The most common types of herbicide in weed and feed products are selective and systemic. Selective herbicides target a species of plant to kill while systemic herbicides work by being absorbed though the roots and then transported throughout the plant, killing it from within. Read the bag label to see what kind of herbicide is used in the weed and feed you are considering using or have used. The bag label will tell you how many days you must wait before applying seed to a lawn that has been treated with that product.

Seeding

Herbicides can target weeds before they germinate from seed – pre-emergent – or as developed plants – post-emergent. Before you seed, you can use a non-selective, post-emergent herbicide to control any weeds in the area to be seeded. Most of these can be applied up to two weeks before seeding to control any existing weeds. Herbicides should not be used after seeding until the new seedlings are established. Mowing and spot treatments can be used to control weeds until the seeded area is actively growing and requires only maintenance watering. Establishment times vary depending on the type of seed you use and your weather conditions.

Using Weed and Feed

Only use a weed and feed if the weed infestation is completely uniform over the entire lawn and all species of weeds targeted will be affected by the herbicide in the weed and feed. This scenario doesn’t occur often, so it is more likely the use of an herbicide and a fertilizer separately will be needed. If the weeds are uniformly spread over the area to be treated, match the appropriate weed and feed product to your grass, the seed you have recently applied or want to apply, and the time of year.

Know What You Grow

It is important to know what kind of grass you have growing or want to have growing. Certain chemicals act differently on different species of grass and weeds. For example, the common herbicide 2,4-D is toxic to some cultivars of St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), which grows in the area roughly covered by U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. Another common herbicide, atrazine, is potentially lethal to grass when applied in temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the instructions on the bag of each weed and feed product to determine how it will affect seeding.

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Weed Management in Home Lawns
  • Texas Agricultural Extension Service: Maintaining St. Augustinegrass Lawns

Sara DeBerry is a graduate of the University of Florida holding a masters degree in environmental horticulture and a minor in entomology and nematology. DeBerry has been writing for government agencies since 2004 and has published peer reviewed scientific articles during her studies at UF.