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Growing Jerusalem Artichokes
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE is very hardy perennial plant and will thrive in most climates. The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also known as ground artichoke, sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple, the Ground Jerusalem Artichoke is really a tuberous rooted Sunflower, the tubers of which form the vegetable. This plant has no claim to the title “Jerusalem,” which is simply a corruption of the Italian name “Girasole” meaning “turning toward the sun,”. The Jerusalem Artichoke is ornamental as well as useful. The plants, when in bloom, are gorgeous, and the tubers make a delicious and palatable vegetable. If you’re growing for a border, Jerusalem artichokes are grown as perennials, and will rapidly grow back each spring. The plant is invasive, and will need to be controlled otherwise it will dominate a border.
The plant is propagated from tubers which throw out annual steins to a height of 6 feet or more. Being somewhat difficult to eradicate when once they are established, they should be grown on an isolated piece of ground. Any ordinary soil that will grow Potatoes is suitable, and whilst Jerusalem Artichokes absorb large quantities of plant food, be careful not to over manure, as a rich soil causes them to grow too much to top at the expense of the tubers. Tubers may be planted during the Winter in rows 3 feet apart, allowing 2 feet between the plants in the rows.
A good system to adopt is to keep the plants on the same piece of ground for several years, simply lifting the tubers of every alternate row each Autumn or Winter, and re-planting in the same place, adding a little manure to the soil to keep up its fertility. Whilst growing, cultivate the space between the plants to keep down the weeds. The rake or dutch hoe is particularly useful for this purpose. As Artichokes are somewhat affected by long dry, hot spells in the Summer, frequent cultivation helps them to maintain their vitality, and they quickly revive after the first shower of rain.
Discontinue the use of the hoe or cultivator after the plants throw out their runners which bear the tubers.
The White Jerusalem is the variety usually grown, and has pure white tubers almost round, with few and very shallow eyes. Store tubers when lifted in a dry place, and where possible in sand or dry sawdust.
Harvesting Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem Artichokes having grown rapidly under the influence of water and warmth, to tall, sunflower-like plants. The pretty yellow flower heads will die down to form the delicious earthy tubers in late autumn to winter. These plants are extremely productive, one plant yields 12 or more tubers, which are edible and have a nutty flavour. They can be turned into soups and sauces, or mashed and boiled just like potatoes.
Lift tubers if required, or leave till wanted. Tubers stored in dry sand will keep well. Very rich soil is not desirable. It produces rank top growth at expense of the tubers. Save some small Jerusalem Artichoke bulbs for replanting, but often the “left behinds” supply all the next season’s crop as needed.
Jerusalem Artichoke Varieties
There are over 200 varieties of Jerusalem artichokes available. They are used as kitchen vegetables, in commercial products as a fructose source and also to make alcohol.
Our Pick of the crop are:
- Passamaquoddy – stunning purple-skinned tubers.
- Stampede – A common, delicious tasting yellow-skinned variety.
- White Mammoth – Knobbier variety.
- Sunray Early Dwarf – Shorter stems
- Sourced Organic Tubers