Everytime a new person comes to the garden they see this plant, scratch their heads, and ask what it is. When Helena, Najat and I went to Foodshare’s plant-grab event, we picked it up mainly because it looked funky, and when we asked about 4 gardeners what it was, we were told it was an artichoke, or a cardoon (and my limited botanical research on Google has positively identified it as a cardoon.) I have decided to do a post about the wonders of this strange (and edible!) plant, so that the daring might grow it themselves or try it from us. None of us have tried it yet but I have been doing some research and the following facts are fairly agreed upon:
Cardoon facts: It’s related to the artichoke and supposedly tastes mildy like artichoke hearts. To render it suitable for eating (and not horribly bitter) one would tie up the stems and blanch it by earthing up around the plant, and leaving it this way for 2-3 weeks. Only the stems are normally eaten, after being peeled (to remove fibers and leaves), and can be boiled or fried (there are some recipes online). It is also fairly invasive so if it decides to flower we can promptly behead it, seeing as it takes up considerable space for limited edibility. Sources are indecisive about its hardiness; some say zone 6 while others say it needs winter protection; ours is thriving despite the cold and snow, so it seems to be fairly hardy.
hope this relieves everyone who was previously confused!