- Produces uniform oval-shaped globes around 10cm in diamater.
- Excellent eating quality.
- Attractive architectural plants which grow to a height of 90-120cm (3-4’).
If you’re really going for it and want to produce more and larger artichokes, then you should chill the seeds prior to sowing. Either soak overnight in water then drain and stick them into a jar of moist sand in the fridge for around 2 weeks or, after sowing under glass as normal, chill the seedlings by transferring them to a cold frame or in a sheltered position (2 to 10 °C, that’s 34 – 50 in old money) for a week or more before planting out. Bring them indoors or protect if the temperature dips below freezing.
Sow: March to April under glass, being careful not to over-water and cause root rot.
Plant out: from May, when the risk of frost has passed, 60cm (2’) apart in a sunny but sheltered spot, in well drained, fertile soil.
Aftercare: Continue to water regularly and feed with a nitrogen rich fertilizer every couple of weeks.
Harvest: July to November just as the globes look like they're going to open. Picking the main, central one, first will allow the others to develop.
Some have had success in over-wintering Imperial Star and have gone on to enjoy a further crop in the second year.
Tip: If you don't want to eat all of your artichokes, you can leave the buds on the plant to open into striking flowers, which will be adored by beneficial insects. You can then allow them to dry on the plant and use for decoration indoors.
Slice off the top of the artichoke (around 2cm) and discard. Cut the stem to about 2cm. Rinse the remainder throughly then place cut side down in a pan containing around 2-3cm of boiling water. You can add flavourings such as a bay leaf, a couple of slices of lemon, splash of white wine or a crushed garlic clove to the cooking liquid.
Tip: Wash hands after preparing raw artichoke as they leave a bitter taste on your fingers!
Steam for around 30-45 mins, depending on size, topping up the cooking liquid as required.. It's ready when the outer leave peel off easily.
The leaves and the heart are edible, but not the choke.
To enjoy the leaves: peel off, one at a time, and dip the fleshy end in melted butter, vinaigrette, or mayo flavoured with lemon or balsamic. Scrape through teeth to remove the delicious soft inards. Discard the remainder.
To enjoy the heart: Scrape out the fuzzy choke until you reach the soft heart. Slice and enjoy with your remaining dip.