Thursday, April 18, 2019

Artichokes - Virginian John Randolph's (1727-1784) Treatise on Gardening 1764

A Treatise on Gardening Written by a native of this State (Virginia)
Author was John Randolph (1727-1784)
Written in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1765
Published by T. Nicolson, Richmond, Virginia. 1793
The only known copy of this booklet is found in the Special Collections of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.


ARTICHOKES, known to botanical writers by the name of Cynara, are to be propagated either from the seed, which are to be gathered from the choke or flower at the head of the Artichoke, or from slips, which are to be separated from the main stalk by the edge of the hand, and transplanted. If these offsets are good, they will be of a whitish colour about the heel, and will have some little root to them. If you have plenty of ground, put three slips in a hill, and let the hills be four feet asunder, and the rows the same; but if you are scanty with regard to your land, you must cut your coat according to your cloth. About March, or the beginning of April, you are annually to slip off all the lateral branches with your hand, and leave only the three principal stalks in your hill. Every spring they ought to be dunged: sheep dung and ashes are not only the best for that purpose, but also for preparing the ground for them. If you have depth of mould enough, i. e. two feet, and you don't crop your ground with any thing else, your Artichokes will remain good a number of years; but if they are any ways neglected, or the ground is tended, they will not only be injured in their growth, but will very much degenerate in five years. When planted out, they should be well watered, if not in a wet season, and be kept clean from weeds. There are various methods of preserving them from the severity of winter. Some cut them down within a foot of the earth, and cover them with a hill or ridge, leaving a small hole at the top, which is covered with dung. I have found from many years' experience, that long dung is an enemy to them, and that the best way to preserve them is, by laying straw on the surface of the ground, over their roots. This preserves the leaves from rotting which fall down from the frost, and, united, afford such a protection to the plant, that not one in fifty will perish. They never flourish in a dripping situation, but like a low place, not too wet, but very rich. When you cut them, cut the stalks quite down to the ground, which strengthens the plants, and makes them forwarder in the spring. There will be many on a stalk, but all must be pulled off except that which is on the centre of the main stalk, if you propose having them fine. If you prick out the slips in the spring, you may have a succession till the fall. The leaves of Artichokes, I have been informed, clean pewter the best of any thing. There are different sorts, but two only that are much propagated. First, Foliis aculeatis, i. e. with prickly leaves. Second, Foliis non aculeatis capite subrubente, i. e. without prickly leaves, and with a smooth and reddish head. The latter is most preferred. There is the Cynara spinosa, which is to be cultivated and eaten like celery, and which produces a head with the seed not unlike the Artichoke, fro in whence it took its name. The common name is chardooh, or cardoon. The Jerusalem only a species of the Sun-flower, with a tuberous root, not unlike a Potatoe. Some admire them, but they are of a flatulent nature, and are apt to cause commotions in the belly.