The itty-bitty artichoke plants from February 2011 have gone crazy in the front yard garden. They produced lots of ‘chokes in their first year, and made it through the winter unscathed. Not bad for a $5 six-pack of plants!
While adding mulch, I saw that some of the plants had started to multiply and were crowding themselves. See how this single plant looks like a bunch that were planted too close together? That’s how you know it’s time to divide.
Here’s a good visual for why you want to mulch (besides preventing weed growth and keeping the soil moist). See how nice and dark the soil is on the surface? That’s decaying mulch. The orange clay soil is what the house was built on. Yuck. A healthy dose of home-brewed compost goes in the hole to prepare it for its new tenant.
Move the stalks aside and look for the clear separation between plants. Get your shovel in there and carefully push straight down. Thankfully the soil was moist (mulch, baby, mulch!) so it was an easy job.
Lever the shovel around and carefully pry the baby plant out. Plop it directly into the waiting hole–do not pass Go, do not collect $200–fill the hole with soil, and cover with mulch.
By this time, I was feeling quite smug and happy with myself. Look at all the plants! Why, we’ll have artichokes every day come springtime! I gave them a gentle soak with the hose and called it a day.
This is what I saw the next morning–three seemingly-dead transplants.
Being stubborn as all heck has its advantages. I’d spent too much time digging and dividing to give up on ’em, so I kept watering and watching. See how the outer stalks are dying but the inner ones are going strong? That’s a good sign.
After about a week, I trimmed the dead outer stalks so the plant could direct all its energy toward the healthy stalks. The small silvery ones are the transplants. They look pretty good, don’t they?
The whole process wasn’t too traumatic for the “mother” plants either, because one of them has a ‘choke already. Yum yum! Who’s bringing the butter?