In the Garden
Early Spring Crops
Perennial crops are some of my favourites. The reward-to-work ratio is so much higher than for the annual crops, which need to be replanted, weeded frequently, and then pulled out in the autumn.
Artichokes are probably my favourite perennial vegetable crop. The bushy metre-and-a-half tall plants need little weeding and can yield both spring and autumn crops in New Zealand (some varieties can be grown as annuals in cold climates, too). They like evenly moist, rich soil but as members of the thistle family, they manage under a wide range of conditions. Although they are easy to grow, preparing the spiny flower buds for eating isn't for the faint of heart--it takes work to get at the umami-rich flesh inside (see my tutorial on preparing artichokes). I particularly enjoy marinated artichoke hearts and artichoke wedges breaded and oven fried.
You can start your own plants from seed or get divisions from mature plants if you know someone who has one. Because the plants are large, digging up and dividing a plant can be quite a job, but the plants handle it fine.