How to look after Cardoons

Cardoon

Cardoon flower heads are similar to globe artichokes in appearance, but are usually grown for the stalks and midribs. The flower heads are beautiful, but too fiddly for eating. The best part of cardoons are their stalks, which can be eaten raw or commonly, stewed and roasted. The flavour is a little bitter, and close to that of an artichoke.

After about 6 weeks, the cardoon seedlings can be planted out. They are pretty easy plants to grow and don’t require too much maintenance. Before harvesting, they do need to be blanched for about six weeks in late summer. The simplest way is to wrap the stalks in sheets of cardboard and tied with twine. If the cardboard gets too soggy from the rain replace it with fresh dry cardboard.

Its best to harvest the stems, and not the whole plant. Cardoons are perennials and can make an impressive tower planted at the back of an arrangement or useful informal hedge in any garden all year round.

Newer stems and midribs growth can be cut and eaten at any time. Trim the stalks at both ends, then using a knife, carefully scrape off the outer, greener skin. Remove the tiny spikes along the edge too, they will be prickly!

They can be eaten raw like celery, or boiled in lemon water for about 15-20 minutes.