Friday, July 28, 2006

Ode to my little artichoke

In spring 2005, I planted some artichoke seeds in a pot on the deck. Those seeds came back with me from Hawaii in about 2003. So I had little hope that anything was going to happen. And it didn't, for a rather long time. Finally, some plants came pushing up. Hoping against all odds that I'd get something edible, I tended those plants lovingly. However, so did a lot of bugs (they like artichokes, too!). Insecticidal soap didn't make the artichokes any happier than the bugs, so I resorted to tomato leaf tea to get rid of aphids and gave in to the fruit flies (or at least that's what they looked like). All 2005, nothing but leaves. Several plants died. But two held on over the winter, still teasing me with the potential of producing my first artichoke. Finally, in about May, one plant got a little bud. Glory be!!! If I could save it from the critters, I might have something there. Keep in mind, we have a small balcony and so this much time (and real estate, it is a big pot) is a pretty big investment when I could be doing something like banging my head against a wall trying to grow tomatoes. (More on that later.) Anyway, today the artichoke, still only about 3" across, started behaving like the flower it is and looked like it was about to bloom. Time for harvest! Simple preparation here -- make sure all the critters are gone and steam it in the microwave for about 2.5 minutes. Usually, I use artichokes as an excuse to eat rich sauces -- I love them with mayo, or hollandaise, or melted butter. But today, nothing was getting between me and my produce! It was very nice, and all I did was put a little bit of salt on the heart. Of course, ten minutes of artichoke ecstasy is a rather meager return on an investment of 18 months :) But sometimes I can be persistent.

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