Artichokes “will not winter reliably north of zone 7”
Spy Garden is in Zone 6a: The first frost occurring at the end of October and last frost occurring in the beginning of April. The first of May is a very safe date to start planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other tender varieties in Spy Garden. If you are planting “warm weather” vegetables make sure and find a date to plant when the danger of frost is completely past and the soil has warmed. In Spy Garden 2012 tomatoes, peppers and eggplants were planted in the ground VERY early: March 15 and as a result the plants grew more slowly and were not as productive. If you are overeager and plant early, choose: broccoli, cauliflower, chard, greens & peas but hold off on the melons, tomatoes, etc. until spring is in full fling!
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It remains to be seen if these Violet de Provence purple artichokes will survive the winter. They were started from seeds indoors this time last year and then planted in the ground in March, 22 2012. The seeds were purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. One of the plants has slightly different foliage so it is either a mutant breed or an artichoke of a different variety got mixed in to the seed packet.
It has been cold in the 10s and 20s but the artichokes still have a lot of color and do seem to perk up on the warmer days. They never fruited in the first season of growing so hopefully in 2013 they will. Leaves have been raked around the plants to help insulate them. Having a raised bed also allows for insulation of the plants. The ground warms more quickly when it is a well-aerated raised bed.