Friday, April 23, 2010

Decline and Fall of the Roman Vegetable

The artichoke plants, while impressive during their season, are also impressive in their demise. This is the front yard after I took out two of the 6 artichokes(I think that is how many plants there are now, they multiply unpredictably.)

Cutting off individual leaves as they get buggy and ragged keeps the plants looking reasonably tidy. I can manage that with a kitchen knife, or my garden machete, a lightweight tool with a slim 8" blade that I absolutely adore. But by the time bud production winds down, the central stalks have grown to 4 inches in diameter. The only way to handle removing that is with a saw.

I don't dig out the rootball because next year's plant(s) will grow from that rootball. I don't know how many years I can get out of each plant, but some of them are on their 4th year now and show no sign of slowing down yet.

Once I saw down the central stalk like a small fibrous tree, I chop the vegetation into pieces with my garden machete and leave it around other parts of the garden. It looks a bit silly today, but give it a few days. The leaves will break down rapidly. The stalks will take a few months or even a year to decompose. In the meantime, they make good mulch for the coming Summer.

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