Talking Thistles

I am not sure if we have hit the peak of artichoke season or not. The artichokes that I have planted have been flowering for a month or so and also the cardoon I have planted on the sidewalk. We certainly have been getting lots of them left over from the farmer’s market and handing them out.  We have also been getting artichokes from Alemany  Farm. Some of those have been a small beautiful purple variety. Yesterday Zack brought  large  round globe artichokes  some from his garden and he says there are at least fifteen on his plant in the outer Mission. They were so beautiful and the fact that he shared some of his surplus produce  at the Stand inspired me to whistle for the thistle!  Talking thistles I need to know the best way to cook or eat cardoon. We get them at the stand and I grown them and I have tried  reading recipes, but it still seems challenging. Has anyone got their favorite  vegan cardoon recipe to share?
0ne artichoke

Zach’s artichoke grown locally


selfie with artichokes

articholes from zack

sartichoke plant.

growing in front of our house

cardoon flower

I planted this cardoon just  about 30 feet from the artichoke  plant above

cardoon plant

Talk about tough. This plant got too tall before I staked it and it fell into the street and then got run over by a car. It is still making some beautiful flowers.

I love the two descendants of the wild thistle tribe, the artichoke and cardoon, which are member of the sunflower family (I also love sunflowers).  We should all be planting them on our sidewalks and in our parks.  They are a great source of nutrition and the only dilemma is whether to harvest them to eat or let them flower for beautifying a garden or  harsh concrete sidewalk  environment.

Maybe I have a thing for thorny plants. I love stinging nettles too, they are also very nutritious, and I have been harvesting some them from my backyard and bringing them to the stand. Not everyone wants them, but it seems more people are trying them out. I also picked the popular  loquats from my backyard (picking them standing on a 14ft ladder).  Besides the produce mentioned above, we were blessed with more avocados from the 23rd St. Garden plus someone brought more avocados from his mom’s  backyard   tree. Plus we had local lemons to boot.

Here are more pictures from the Stand:

P1010013our hecka local corner with Naomi



fruits from the Andes Pepino dulce and rocoto peppers


non local organic free trade bananas


 If I were not opening the garden on Saturday I would go to this event, since no one is turned away for lack of money. Jason Mark knows a lot about farming!

Join us next Saturday, May 10th, for the first in our series of spring/summer gardening workshops:

It Starts with the Soil:  Composting 101 and Soil Fertility for your Garden
Saturday, May 10th, 11 am – 3 pm
Alemany Farm, SF, CA
Instructor:  Jason Mark
If you want to have healthy plants, you need healthy soil. This workshop will cover the basics of maintaining soil fertility, including annual cover cropping, compost building, and soil testing.
Jason Mark is a co-founder of Alemany Farm and a veteran urban gardener.

To register, send us an email at [email protected].
There is a suggested donation of $20 per person; no one turned away for lack of funds.

No matter the size of your garden or level of experience—or even if you just want more insight into what it takes to grow the food we eat—this soil basics workshop as a great place to start. Jason co-led the popular ecological horticulture apprenticeship program at Alemany Farm and has lots of knowledge and experience to share.

Visit us at for more information on our workshop series.  Thank you – we hope to see you there!

Erik Rotman
Friends of Alemany Farm






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