Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Over Wintering Artichokes

Steve asked how I managed the successful over wintering of these Green Globe artichokes. Actually I thought readers were a little bored with this story which has been going on in here for nearly 5 years. Please begin by reading these past posts .

I used wall-o-waters the past two seasons. I did not succeed in 2008/2009. But this winter I did succeed. I suspect the success this time is linked to two factors: the way I prepared the plants and the kind of winter we had ... mostly the latter. This year I cut what remained of the plants to 6 inches above ground and covered them in grass clippings before putting on the wall-o-waters. But mostly I think it was the snow cover and the lack of extreme cold that led to success.

Our local garden columnist, Lynne Irons, also reported having successfully over wintered her artichokes this year. She uses different materials, but also gives lots of credit to what was overall a mild winter.

"Speaking of enjoyment — several of my globe artichokes made it through the winter. I had covered them with a double layer of Reemay and enclosed the bed with bales of hay. Keep in mind, however, we did have a mild winter. I do not believe we dipped into the single digits at all. Nobody believes me when I say such things because it was rainy, snowy and gloomy a great deal of the time, but all in all, the temperatures held steady."

One other thought to successful over wintering in northern climates is the variety of the artichoke. Imperial Star has not done well for me. I have experimented with and Northern Star and Emerald but have not had success over wintering them. The ones I had success with were Green Globe Improved from Reimer Seeds.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I made a quick dash north this weekend to feed and spray the apple trees and put some seedlings under grow lights until I return again in early May. It is a lousy weekend weather wise, but I was greeted with a great success.It may not look like much to you, but what you see in this photograph is something I have been waiting for for at least four maybe five seasons ... a successfully over-wintered artichoke. I am hoping these nice strong plants will produce early and often this year.

On a hunch I dropped by a stand of Japanese knotweed I know in a friend's backyard. I hit it at JUST the right time and was rewarded with a bountiful harvest. It is an invasive brought to the States by none other than the man who brought us Central Park, the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. It tastes a lot like rhubarb and can be used in its place for many recipes. I will cut it up and freeze it and boil it down into a compote a little later in the season. The great thing about htis invasive is that it is a great source for RESVERATROLI also made time to harvest some parsnips for a spring dug parsnip chowder.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Easter Parade

Let's hear it for the trees. This is their season. In my backyard the tulip magnolia is giving off an intoxicating fragrance. If only we had a scratch and sniff capability here.Then, of course, there is the princess of all the trees ... the cherry blossoms. I arrived a little before sunrise, but I was not alone. Here was a bride and her photographer setting up a sunrise photo shoot.The air was still enough to provide a crisp reflection in the tidal basinThen there is the classic shot with the Monument in the distanceand, of course the broad sweep with reflectionand the early sun on blossom and woodWhile Washington is most associated with cherry trees, I think the real stateliness of the city is in its find stand of American elms. These were planted by Governor Shepherd in the years after the Civil War. Why these trees escaped Dutch elm disease is a mystery to me. Anyone with information, please comment. So I wanted to give this elm tree its due. These dogs attracted lots of photographic attention. But already the cherry blossoms are falling like snowflakesbut this crab apple is not far behind ready to take its place in the Easter Parade of Trees