All you need to know about the artichoke

Las alcachofas son muy fáciles de cuidar

The artichoke is a typical plant that grows almost anywhere without needing much water, and that it has medicinal properties very interesting. Is more, if you want to have a strong immune system, I’m going to recommend that you do it with a few seeds or seedlings and you proceed to cultivate them.

Do you have No idea how to do it? Don’t worry: for that you have this complete guide in which will tell you all about this plant.

Origin and characteristics

Vista de la planta de alcachofa o Cynara scolymus

Our protagonist, called alcachofera, artichoke or artichoke, and whose scientific name is Cynara scolymus, is an herbaceous plant native to the western Mediterranean. Reaches a height of 1.4 to 2 metres. Forms a rosette of leaves entire to deeply segmented and with few or no thorn that springs from a single stem. These are light green in the beam and with hairs whitish on the underside.

During the spring sprout cabezuelas covers of numerous bracts -modified leaves that protect the flowers – lilac color.

Main varieties

Are the following:

  • Blanca de Tudela: is a variety with elongated green color and small size.
  • Espinosa: the bracts are spiny. Can be eaten raw.
  • Romanesco: is a variety of thick, round and color violet.
  • Spanish: produces numerous sprouts basal. It is white, with the head small.
  • Violet de Provence: it is very small and has a conical shape. Its bracts are purplish. It can be eaten raw when still is not mature at all.

Cultivation and care

La flor de la alcachofa es de color lila

If you want to cultivate artichoke, then I’ll explain how:

Planting

The seeds are sown in spring, and is done in the following way:

  1. First, fill a tray of seedlings (you can get it here) with a substrate for seedlings (like this).
  2. Second, is watered and placed in a maximum of two seeds per cavity.
  3. Third, are covered with a thin layer of substrate and re-watering, this time with a sprayer.
  4. Fourth, place the seedlings in a plastic tray, on the outside to full sun.
  5. Fifth, every 2 days you are going to water -pouring the water in the tray-.

So, will germinate over the next 7-14 days.

Plantation

When the seedlings have a height of about 5-10cm, it will be time to pass them to the garden:

  1. Before anything, you must prepare the ground: remove the wild grasses, fertilize with guano or other organic fertilizer such as cow manure), and install the drip irrigation system.
  2. Then, to make the furrows, leaving a distance of about 120cm between them.
  3. Then, plant the seedlings so that they are separated by about 90cm between them.
  4. Finally, it starts up the irrigation system.

Maintenance

Now that you have planted, take care of them. For this reason you must do the following:

  • Watering 2-3 times a week in the summer. The rest of the year it will not matter to water as often.
  • Pay at least once a month (every 15 days) with an organic fertilizer.
  • Remove the herbs they grow.
  • After the harvest, and when they are just starting to dry out, give it a pruning, drastic as it will encourage the production of tillers in the next season.

Pests and diseases

Pulgones verdes, unas de las plagas que puede tener las plantas

Pest

  • Aphids: these are parasites of about 0.5 cm that feed on the cells of the leaves and the roots. Can be controlled with traps, sticky yellow (you can get them here).
  • Mollusks: snails and slugs can cause havoc by eating the leaves. You can fight with molusquicidas, but if you have pets it is best to use these home remedies.
  • Drill of the artichoke: it is a lepidopteran that digs galleries in the stem, causing problems to the plant. To combat Bacillus thuringiensis (you can buy it here).
  • White fly: it is a parasite of white color with wings that measures about 0.5 cm which also feeds on the cells of the leaves. You can fight with the sticky trap yellow.

Diseases

  • Mildew: a fungus that causes the appearance of a white powder on leaves, stems and fruit. We fight it with natural fungicides (you can buy here).
  • Powdery mildew: a fungus that causes the appearance of a gray mold on the leaves. Fighting also with fungicides.
  • Botrytis: a fungus that causes rot of the stem and the roots. To combat fungicide, although there is also to reduce the risks.
  • Virus: these are viruses that cause the appearance of mosaic in the leaves and the fruit. There is No cure.

Collection

The harvest season begins in the fall (starting in November in the northern hemisphere) until the end of winter/spring. What you do is cut 8-10cm flowering stem, starting from the second year after planting.

Multiplication

In addition to seeds, you can have artichokes in other ways: by setts, which have to be separated before the flowering stem to grow; and by division of kills. For this last point, what is done is, at the beginning of spring, to suspend the watering and cutting the plant to about 25cm of the soil, leaving the rhizome and some branches. Then, it is divided into 4 with a piece of rhizome and buds, and planted in other areas.

Hardiness

Its temperature range is appropriate for 7 to 29, but supports up to -6 ° C minimum and up to 38-40 ° C maximum.

What uses does it have?

Plato hecho con alcachofas: el pincho de pulpo con trozos de alcachofa

Culinary

The artichokes can be eaten boiled or cooked, and some varieties raw. The ideal frequency is 2-3 times per week. Its nutritional value is as follows:

  • Water: 88%
  • Carbohydrates: 7,5% (fibre 3,5%)
  • Protein: 2,3%
  • Lipids: 0,1%
  • Potassium: 570 mg/100 g
  • Sodium: 35 mg/100 g
  • Phosphorus: 80 mg/100 g
  • Calcium: 45 mg/100 g
  • Vitamin C: 9 mg/100 g
  • Vitamin A: 17 micrograms/100 g
  • Vitamin B1: 0.1 mg/100 g

Medicinal

It has many medicinal uses, which are:

  • Helps to regenerate the liver: the water we use to cook them, we add a lemon juice. Then, just have to go taking it after meals.
  • We helps you to lose weight: because of its diuretic and cleansing properties, taking infusions can we go to recovering our weight.
  • Take care of the intestinal tract: avoiding (or trying to) constipation. For this, simply boil a few artichokes steamed and taste them.
  • Gives you energy: if we tend to feel tired, it is probably because we miss eating artichokes 😉 . So you have to include them in the diet.
  • Treats headache: for headaches, there is nothing better than taking infusions of artichoke.

La alcachofa es una hortaliza fácil de cuidar

What has been interesting?

The article Everything you need to know about the artichoke has been originally published in Gardening On.

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