Cardoon is a tender perennial grown as an annual for its young leaf-stalks. It grows well anywhere in the United States.
Plant cardoon from transplants in the garden on the date of the last frost in your area. If you're growing your own transplants from seed, start them indoors six to eight weeks before planting in the garden. New plants may also be started from suckers. Cardoon prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It grows quickly in any well-drained, fertile soil. Cardoon stalks can get very tough, so the plant is blanched to improve flavor and make it more tender. Blanch when the plant is about three feet tall, four to six weeks before harvesting. Tie the leaves together in a bunch and wrap paper or burlap around the stems. Or, form a hill of soil around the stem.
Harvest the plants four to six weeks after blanching. Cut them off at ground level and trim off the outer leaves.
Varieties of Cardoon
The two most common are Large Smooth and Ivory White Smooth.
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