Double Duty Cardoon
Written by: Sumati Shah, Go Go Green Thumbs
My gardening space is a small backyard. I’m always excited by the idea of a plant that will be beautiful to look at while it’s growing, and delicious when it’s eaten. It makes for a more exciting season: watching the changes through the season and keeping an eye on the harvest as the plants mature.
I’m doubly excited about Cardoon Cynara cardunculus, which I only previously knew as an ornamental in the cut flower industry. The flowers are big and beautiful – they look like giant thistle: huge, purple and attractive to pollinators.
A little more investigating and I discovered that this beauty is also grown as a food crop and is a great compost addition! I’m pretty excited! Apparently these plants can reach 6ft in height, but I’m going to count on 4’ (we’ll see how this works out) and plant it in the back of a sunny bed that’s got some perennials in it already, and also room for annual plantings.
Rule of GreenThumbs: Flowers can do double duty: ornamental flowers and edible food crops are sometimes one and the same.
Cardoon can self seed, so if the stems aren’t as delicious as I’m hoping, I’ll just enjoy the big flower show and harvest the seeds so there isn’t any spread.
I do love artichoke hearts and the stems of Cardoon are said to taste just like them. Depending upon how well this experiment plays out, I may be enjoying a new vegetable on the regular, or I may be just enjoying some fluffy purple flowers and a healthy compost pile addition.
Time will tell! I’m aiming for both, that said, and knowing how adventures in gardening sometimes bring the unexpected, I’m planning for success and to make the most of whatever comes up. Life, and gardens, are journeys…we sow seeds, and enjoy the ride!
Go Go Green Thumbs!