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For the love of artichokes | Community Spirit

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For the love of artichokes
For the love of artichokes

SACRAMENTO, CA. - My mother lives in the Monterey area and just brought me a treat: the official vegetable of Monterey County.

In case you don't know what vegetable that is, it's the artichoke. She didn't just bring me one artichoke but a bundle of them. It lead me to wondering, can we grow artichokes in Sacramento and just how good are these things for you anyway?

According to Dale Huss the vice president of artichoke production at Castroville's Ocean Mist Farms, "Artichokes are fun to grow."

"They're perfectly suited to the conditions in the Castroville area," he said, but might do well in Sacramento with the proper water and sunlight requirements. "You can stand in the fields and watch the artichokes grow. That's how fast it happens. It's like pushing race horses into the starting gate and suddenly the gates are opened and you're off, galloping for harvest. I feel the tension building, feel the plants pushing the artichokes to maturity and I have a sense of excitement about bringing this beautiful crop to market," he's quoted in California Bountiful, a magazine about California produce.

But do they grow in Sacramento?

Yes, artichoke plants do grow well in the Sacramento Valley. Castroville and other coastal valley locations still have a big advantage over us when it comes to "perfect" weather for growing giant-sized artichokes, but Sacramento gardeners have been known to grow prolific producers in their own backyards.

The plants produce vegetables in the spring and die back in the heat of the summer. The only problem, says one Arden area gardener, is the plants get very large and can take over a small backyard garden in no time.