So first in alphabetical order, and first in terms of when I need to start working on it, is the artichoke. "In Utah?!" you may ask. Well, yes. Here's the plan - pretty much straight from Eliot Coleman.
Artichokes are traditionally perennials, but require more mild winters than we have here to survive. But they can also be grown as annuals with a little manipulation.
To grow as an annual, artichokes need to be fooled into believing that they are in their second season of growth. So I'll start about January 15th, starting the seedlings indoors where they can germinate in the warm temperature. This goes on for 6 weeks and is their first "summer" season. At that point- about early March, the seedlings will go outside to a cold frame, where the temperature needs to be between 25 to 50 degrees F. This is their first "winter" season, and while they need the cold weather to be fooled into their winter cycle, they also need protection from frost and freezing during this time. Hence, the cold frame (I may do a separate post on this some other time, but you can probably google it for now.) They stay in the cold frame until the last frost date, which, I've heard, is somewhere around the end of April/early May for Salt Lake City. At this point, they are transplanted to the garden, where they start their second "summer" season and produce fruit.
I'm ordering the Imperial Star Globe Artichokes (#2120), one packet contains 25 seeds for $3.95. They need 24" spacing, so I'll probably use only half of the seeds, at most. The other half will be up for trade at the seed exchange.
4 weeks ago