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Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem ArtichokesI didn’t realise that I was growing Jerusalem Artichokes for a couple of years. As a close relation to the sunflower, I planted one Helianthus tuberosus in a dry area of the garden where I was assured that it would thrive. And it did.

By the second year there were six of the giants. It was only when I planned to move the group elsewhere that I found these tuberous roots. Initially I wasn’t at all sure what these knobbly roots were and was concerned that they might indicate some sort of ghastly disease. So there was a frantic thumbing through the gardening books. To my delight I discovered that these ugly knobbly roots were edible and pretty tasty. I also learned that Jerusalem artichokes are from the Sunflower family and not even a distant relation to the Globe Artichoke.

Jerusalem Artichokes are a useful and unusual vegetable and are so easy to grow. Just put the tubers in the soil about 18 inches apart and three inches down and each of these will produce a small cluster of new tubers. The advice that I was given initially was a bit misleading. Putting them in a dry area of the garden implies no husbandry. They will survive in a dry area but, like most vegetables, will thrive if the ground is regularly fed and watered. The artichoke patch needs to be moved regularly as the quality of the tubers will deteriorate if they stick to the same space year after year. Left alone, they spread like mad and quickly devour the nutrients from the soil. Once harvested they keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Jerusalem artichokes were grown by the Native American Indians who called them sun roots. They are high in iron and potassium and they are also high in sugar. The fresh tubers taste similar to water chestnuts and are good grated in salads. We also toss them, sliced or chopped, into a stir fry. We make artichoke soup and are planning to pickle some this year.

They also attract bored Min Pins. We had a box of Jerusalem Artichokes standing on our kitchen floor until one small, greedy min pin puppy discovered how to lift the lid.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Della

    They need to be set in soil and goat manure would be good as long as it has brooken down for at least a year.

  2. On down the road, would the soil have to be removed or would they continue to propagate in the there an end point? We have a lot of very rich soil from our goat operation..will this be too rich?

  3. I was thinking of planting the jerusalem artichokes in a defunct hot tub. What do you think? Do they want full sun? Would they be all right with sun from 9 AM to 7 PM in the summer?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Della

      I’m sure that they’d love sun all day nestled in your hot tub. Ours don’t have sun all day but are happy and produce loads of artichokes. If they are in a sunny spot they also produce sunflower like flowers.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Organic Viking

    They are great in salads.

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll try them in mixed roast veg in the future.

    Hi KarenO

    They are an easy veg to grow and sometimes people grow them to screen off hives of bees, so the bees have to fly up to leave the garden and do not disturb the neighbours.

    Hi Natasha

    This creamy element intrigues me. Perhaps I will keep a few this year. Thanks.

    Hi Kate UK

    Thanks for this tip it could be very useful indeed in late summer 🙂

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