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Friday, October 27, 2017

Remove Lower Leaves of Artichokes

Q. I cut the lower leaves off my artichoke plant a couple months ago per your suggestion.  In fact, my son who is a pretty good gardener asked why I cut them off. He comes over and helps me with the vegetables and asked me why I did that.
Don't let anyone tell you that you can't grow artichokes in desert heat and irrigating with drip. You can. You just manage them differently because "it ain't Omaha".
 How to Grow Artichokes in the Mojave Desert

A. Educate your son and tell him that not all leaves contribute back to the plant. If the leaves are in too much shade they pull nutrients and energy from the plant and it's best if they are removed.    This can be the reason lower leaves turn yellow and die. We see this frequently when plants are grown too close together. Over time, shading causes the lower, shaded leaves to become weak, die and drop.
Aphids feeding on the undersides of artichoke leaves causing yellowing. Remove these leaves at the main trunk. They are growing under other leaves so they are in nearly total darkness and are a drain on the energy supply of the plant. Besides that, it is impossible to spray the undersides of the leaves where the aphids are feeding.
            Removing lower leaves also helps control pests. Very often the highest concentration of plant pests is on the undersides of leaves closest to the soil where there is higher humidity, cooler and more protection from predators.
'Violetto' Artichoke being evaluated at the University Orchard in North Las Vegas In the Eastern Mojave Desert
 As vegetables get bigger, cut the lower leaves off the plant with a scissors while still young. If spraying a pesticide is necessary to control some insects, it's much easier to spray the undersides of leaves with lower leaves removed.
            When using organic sprays such as Neem Oil or soap and water, they must be applied when plant pest populations are small and building, with fewer adults and mostly immature pests. Frequent applications of organic sprays are often necessary to keep plant pests in check.

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