Every year I like to try a different plant that has a bit of a reputation as a challenge, or that no one else around here is growing. Last year I did eggplants which turned out to be very easy.
Artichokes are actually a tender perennial that cannot be over wintered this far north. They can be grown as annuals but they need to be tricked into thinking they are 2 years old to get them to set fruit. So, it's the old fooling mother nature routine, and she doesn't always fall for it. The way to do this is to start them early, let them grow for a few weeks, and then put them out in a cold frame for a few weeks. The hope is that they get enough cold temperatures that they think they've just experienced a mild southern winter. It's kind of like taking your toddler and dressing her up like a 20 year old show girl in Las Vegas in the hopes of winning a pageant. But this isn't nearly so freaky.
I started the artichoke seeds, a variety called Imperial Star, on Valentine's Day. They haven't germinated yet, but I expect they will have by the 21st.