Unlike most plants grown in the garden, artichokes are perennials, so if you want to grow them, you should prepare a plot that will be occupied by the artichoke plants for several years. There are varieties for production in autumn, usually with smaller artichokes, and others for production in spring. What you eat is the head of the artichoke flower. Artichokes like a warm climate with mild winters, so it is recommended to grow these plants only in areas where the winters are not too hard. In areas where the winter months bring prolonged frosts you will have to cover the artichokes completely to protect them from the cold. Artichokes prefer soil that is cool, deep, of medium texture, fairly rich in organic matter, and not too clayey, chalky or sandy. So you need to work the soil specially for artichokes, adding rich soil, a little sand to improve drainage, and mature organic fertiliser, which will enrich the soil and will also improve the texture. To get artichoke plants we traditionally use what are called ‘basal shoots’: these are young shoots produced by large artichoke plants; and in particular we use suckers which have already produced at least 4-6 leaves. The mature plants are quite impressive in size for the garden: they easily reach 100-120 cm in height and width, so when you are preparing the holes for the plants you should do so with a gap of at least 100-150 cm between them. When you are planting the basal shoots take care not to bury them excessively, to avoid encouraging the onset of rot; then water the soil. You should water on a regular basis during the spring, especially when the artichokes are coming up. Production will be improved if periodically, every 4-6 years, you replace old plants with new basal shoots.