Growing Cardoon Plants In Your Yard

Growing Cardoon Plants In Your Yard

Considered by some to be just an invasive weed and by others as a culinary delight, cardoon plants are a member of the thistle family, and in appearance, are very similar to the globe artichoke; indeed it is also referred to as the artichoke thistle. The cardoon plants was grown as a food crop in medieval Greece, Rome and Europe, and was introduced to the United States in the 1790s by the Quakers. It remained a vital part of the early American vegetable garden, until falling out of favor in the late 1800s. Today, the vegetable is still cultivated in Spain and Italy, but remains relatively unknown in other parts of Europe and North America. In appearance, the cardoon plant is quite striking, with large thistle-like purple flowers, wide green leaves, and flower stalks which are similar to those of celery.

The stalks are most often covered with small, invisible spines which can lodge in the skin when handled, and cause pain and irritation. There are several spineless varieties available, but care should always be taken in handling the plant to avoid injury. The stalks of the cardoon plants are high in natural sodium, but are also a good source of calcium, potassium and iron. They make a good crop for composting, due to the large amount of fibrous leaves and stalks produced by the plants.

Outdoor Garden Cardoon Plants

Outdoor Garden Cardoon Plants

Cardoon is an architectural splendor with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped gray-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame.

Backyard Garden With Cardoon Plants

Backyard Garden With Cardoon Plants

Native to the Mediterranean, cardoon plants (Cynara cardunculus) are now found in dry grassy areas of California and Australia, where it is considered a weed.

Garden With Cardoon Plants

Garden With Cardoon Plants

Today, cardoon plants are grown for their ornamental properties, such as the silvery grey, serrated foliage and bright purple flowers.

Cardoon Plants In The Garden Yard

Cardoon Plants In The Garden Yard

Cardoon is a tender perennial vegetable grown as an annual.

Outdoor Yard With Cardoon Plants

Outdoor Yard With Cardoon Plants

Grow cardoon in full sun; cardoon will tolerate partial shade. Plant cardoon in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Prepare beds in advance with aged compost. Cardoon prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Cardoon Plants In The Backyard Garden

Cardoon Plants In The Backyard Garden

Cardoon is a tender perennial. It looks like a cross between burdock and celery. It is grown for its young leaf-stalks which are blanched and eaten like celery. Cardoon has heavy, gray-green, fuzzy leaves that are deeply cut leaves and a heavy, bristled flower head.

Cardoon Plants In The Backyard

Cardoon Plants In The Backyard

Cardoon will be ready for harvest 4 to 6 weeks after blanching. Cut stalks off at ground level and trim away the leaves.

Outdoor Garden Yard With Cardoon Plants

Outdoor Garden Yard With Cardoon Plants

Although cardoons can grow in nutritionally poor soil (highly acidic or alkaline), they prefer full sun and deep, rich soil.

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