I think you're right, the subject needs a softer light, whereas the Allium seed head, and the pumpkin are about textures... typically brought out by the use of harsher lighting.
I'm currently reshooting the pumpkin picture as I hated the background in the original (on Ilford Multigrade of course!). Hope to post pictures later on this evening.
I'm hoping you'll go out and shoot those artichokes! Looking forward to seeing the result.