Il giardino di Febbraio
A February garden in Kelowna can see the first primula blooms popping up one moment, and covered with snow the next. A clear spot on the edge of a pathway will have crocus shoots giving a promise of spring only to be hit by a cold snap and stopped in their tracks. One moment we have hopes for spring, and then we are shaken to a cold reality. That is Febbraio in the Okanagan Valley.
Thank goodness for inside plant rooms and greenhouses. Here, I can sit with my morning tea and crossword puzzle listening to the sounds of the birds at our feeder and the gentle sound of my waterfall. During the winter, I keep the temperature quite low to avoid the plants becoming overgrown. My old stock geraniums are beginning to bloom, the potato vines are showing many new shoots and last year’s potted up pepper plants are showing their first blooms. February is also the time I sort through all my stored garlic. I take all the smaller and softer heads, clean them, throw them in the food processor and pack the shredded garlic in jars filled with olive oil. Stored in the fridge, they make easy work in food preparation.
It is a little early to start most seeds for next spring’s planting outside. But, on my heat mat, I usually start a few new plants of basilico to supplemant last year’s potted ones which are beginning to look a little ragged.
In my cold room, my brugmansia and fig trees have been kept very dry and have finally shed all their leaves. I will start watering them later this month. Brugmansia cuttings were rooted in the greenhouse and are beginning to show promise.
Last year was the first year in quite a while that I grew artichokes. They grew quite quickly but would have benefitted from a full day sun exposure, instead of the 6 hour sun location where they were located. Last fall I had cut them right to the ground, potted them, and put them in my cold room. Even in the cold room they have resprouted and are now over a foot high.
Artichokes are considered the King of Vegetables in the Roman cuisine. They (carciofi) are relatives of the thistle, which isn’t surprising when you consider their appearance. The artichoke is native to North Africa and southern Europe and has been cultivated in Italy since early Roman times. Carciofi grow in fields all across central and southern Italy in fields called carciofaie, and folks plant them is bunches as part of their landscaping, or as hedges that lead to their homes. Very tender young artichokes are often eaten raw in salads, or preserved in oil, while larger artichokes are most often sauteed, stuffed, fried, or breaded. Artichoke production in Italy has a long history. Italy is the world's largest producer of artichokes. With Spain and France, the three countries produce more than 80% of the world's artichokes.
There are two theories as to its origin: artichokes may have derived from the cardoon or thistle through a cross-fertilization process, while others attribute it to the work of Italian horticulturists. The first record of artichoke cultivation in Italy was during the fifteenth century in Naples, where it was considered a new food species. In 1466, Filippo Strozzi brought the first artichoke to Florence. By 1473, it had arrived in Venice. In 1915, 64,000 tons were produced. Italy produces dozens of varieties.
The Mysteries of the Artichoke Unveiled, in Italian Food Forever
Deborah Mele October 26, 2011
Artichoke production in Italy in Wikipedia
Discovering Italian Cusine: Artichokes, the Roman Delicacy
By Arte Lusso Team, December 8, 2019
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Life-long Gardener Don Rampone shares his tips and advice for gardening