Cardoons, which are only harvested from November through February, are grown in damp, temperate climates; the cooler the winter, some say, the more tender the cardoon. Although nowhere a major crop, the vegetable is grown today in France, Italy, Spain, Iran, Australia, Argentina, and England. The English, it must be noted, tend to enjoy the cardoon mostly in the garden, as a majestic blooming plant with blue or pinkish-purple flowers—not as something to be eaten. Since the early 20th century, the cardoon has also been cultivated in the United States, but commercial production is largely limited to a paltry 18 acres in Northern California. "There's always a patch or two of cardoons mixed in with the artichokes," says Gery Willey, deputy agricultural commissioner of Monterey County. "From a distance the two plants look a lot alike. Most people just don't know cardoons when they see them."