Starting the seed was simple. I grew it like just about any other veggie seed. Started it in a flat, transplanted the tiny seedlings to pots, then when two sets of true leaves appeared and the seedlings were good sized, they went out into the garden.
Now, I did read that cardoon gets to be a really big plant, so I spaced them about 3 foot apart, which sounded fairly close. Geez, lots of empty space around those small seedlings. So I planted radishes around them to use the space while the cardoon grew. That worked out just fine. Once the radishes were harvested, I dug in some compost around the growing cardoon then mulched the area. And I had dug in manure & compost prior to setting the seedlings out. So far, so good.
As the months progressed, the cardoon plants filled up the space. Boy, I think they're pretty! Large dramatic toothed leaves. Impressive plants. After a while they produced those light grey-green hearts that I see in the Internet photos, so perhaps it was time to harvest some for a try.
One of the brave community gardeners took the first harvested plant home to try. Report -- inviting flavor but bitter as all get-out. She followed the preparation directions on the Internet and it was still a big failure.
Ok. First attempt = fail. But I plan the give it a few more tries.
#1- try blanching the current plants for several weeks and see if that makes a difference.....
#2- try watering frequently.
#3- try using manure tea on some of the plants.
#4- try digging in manure around the base of some plants.
#5- try digging in compost around the base of some plants.
The idea is to try encouraging some rapid growth plus exclude sunlight to the edible parts. On most of the plants I'll leave the outer leaves exposed to the sun but blanch the hearts. A few plants I'll try blanching the entire thing.
Another thing, I'll try timing their growing period so that they are ready to harvest around December. The idea being to get the plants to "mature" because it's winter. I'll see if that makes a difference.
Here's a closer look at how the gardeners are trying blanching....