Thursday, July 4, 2013

News from the Edible Landscape Demonstration Garden

Cardoon in bud
Not only does the calendar tell us summer has arrived, but so do the plants in the demonstration garden. The bush cucumbers are beginning to flower and tiny fruits have just appeared on the vines. The tomatoes are growing rapidly and producing flowers; small husked fruits are also visible on the tomatillos. The cardoon is now almost four feet tall with thistle-like flower buds. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this attractive edible, cardoons (Cynara cardunculus) are a Mediterranean native closely related to the more familiar artichoke. Cardoons are hardy here in the Philadelphia area, liking organically rich, well-drained soil and full sun. While often grown as an ornamental, this attractive food plant has been part of the American vegetable gardeners' lexicon from the early 19th century. The edible stalks are blanched 2 to 3 weeks before the end of the growing season by tying the outer branches together and wrapping the base of the plant -- about 18 inches high -- with newspaper or burlap. At first frost, the stalks are harvested by cutting them just below the crown of the plant. The outer leaves are removed, leaving the white stalks reminiscent of over sized celery which are boiled or steamed. I am told they taste somewhat like artichoke.

Master Gardeners Eldredge Ragsdale and
Mary Ellen Post
Over the weekend we said a temporary good-bye to the collards and Chinese mustard greens. They have been replaced by a second cropping of cucumbers that will be trellised upon a simple A-frame structure made from garden stakes. Plans for the fall plantings are already well underway. Garlic has been ordered and seeds selected for the autumn harvest. These include various salad greens, snow peas and other cool weather crops.

We encourage you all to stop by the garden sometime soon.

Previous blogs on Cardoons    


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