In the Jerusalem and Globe Artichokes we have two vegetables that are comparatively little grown in small gardens. The latter is certainly not worth the amount of space it demands to the cottager or small-garden amateur. It is more or less of a luxury, and there is perhaps a certain amount of justification for the remark that eating Globe Artichokes is with most people merely an excuse for eating butter. The Jerusalem Artichoke is more serviceable, but it also requires space.
The Chinese Artichoke, Stachys tuberifera, came into prominence a few years ago. The tubers average 2 to 3 inches in length, and are spirally corrugated. They are agreeable in flavour, and, as the plant crops well, and does not make extravagant demands on space, there is no reason why it should not be grown if fancy dictates. At the same time, it would be idle to aver that this vegetable is of any real garden importance. The tubers may be planted 9 inches apart, in rows 2 feet asunder, in spring, and lifted in autumn.
Tastes differ on the score of the Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus). Some like it, others express no partiality. It is a poor vegetable when badly cooked, but by no means to be despised when well served, and it makes a delicious soup. It contains no starch, and will therefore never boil floury.
The Jerusalem Artichoke resembles the Potato in liking a very freely worked soil. Much dung is unnecessary, in fact disadvantageous, inasmuch as it leads to coarseness, both in appearance and flavour. The best tubers for planting are those about 2 oz. in weight, and even in shape. They may be planted 6 inches deep in March or April. I find the plant serviceable for a screen, with its tall, Sunflower-like growth, and, in utilising it as such, plant the tubers 1 foot apart in a single row, but if weight of crop was the only consideration I should be disposed to give them more room. In bed planting they should have 2 by 2 1/2 feet.
The most common mistake with this vegetable is to lift the tubers early in autumn. The growth should be allowed to die away, or, if heavy winds in autumn break the plants over, as they often will in exposed places, cut the stems through a few inches above the soil, clear away the top hamper, and leave the stools till midwinter or later, lifting a few tubers as wanted for use. A peck to each hole is a satisfactory crop, although ancient practitioners sometimes tell of having lifted a bushel in the good old days!
The seedsman can generally supply planting tubers of Jerusalem Artichokes, or failing him the local greengrocer. It is well, however, to order early, for it is an odd fact that the demand for this little-grown vegetable often exceeds the supply. The old red is a useful sort, and the newer white very good in flavour.
The Globe Artichoke, Cynara Scolymus, does not provide us with underground tubers, but with scaly green or purple flower heads, the size of an Orange, or bigger. These balls are cooked and served with melted butter, and the green or purplish scales are tender and agreeable. It was in Berlin that I first tasted Globe Artichokes, and a clever chef had served them up very tastily, but I am not going to say that even in the hands of the best of cooks they are anything to go into raptures over.
The Globe Artichoke gives us, however, another dish. It is not uncommon to cut the plants over in summer, and when the young growths which follow have pushed a couple of feet or so, to blanch them with straw and soil. These are called Chards.
Fig. 45. The Chinese Artichoke.
A, top and roots.
B, how to plant.
A stock of Globe Artichokes may be secured in the first place by sowing seeds in spring, and putting out the resulting plants about 1 yard apart; but when a plantation has been made, the stock can be perpetuated by suckers.
The plants like a deep, richly manured soil, and abundance of liquid manure. If their wants are met in this direction, and they are allowed to stand 4 feet apart all ways, they will make fine clumps.
When they have finished for the year they may be mulched with fine coal ashes or burnt refuse, and litter.
Seedsmen usually offer two or three varieties of Globe Artichokes, from which the Large Green or Giant Purple may be chosen.