Last year we decided to plant some Jerusalem Artichokes (also known as Sunchokes) in the garden.
They are a perennial root vegetable that are easy to grow. They are planted in early spring and can grow 6-12 feet tall with clusters of yellow flowers on the tops of the tall canes.
They will grow in just about any soil in full sun, and will produce large amounts of knobby tubers at the base of the plant that can be replanted or eaten. We plated 4 lbs last March and harvest about 80 lbs this week!
If replanting it is important to know that they can become invasive, especially if you don't remove all the small tubers, so be sure to plant them in an area that you don't mind having them regrow. If you want to remove all of them, then dig up in early summer when the tubers are small.
Plant them in late winter, early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Before planting, cut tubers into one or two ounce pieces, with two or three prominent buds. Don't let the pieces dry out before planting. I store the tubers in buckets covered with garden soil until I am ready to plant them. I also left some in the ground over winter and dug them up this week to replant as they will stay preserved in the ground. We just harvested from the two beds in front of the chicken coop and replanted some back in for a new crop for this year.
To plant, space 12" to 24" apart and bury 3" to 5" deep in the soil.
Jerusalem Artichokes are also a great food source. The tubers are sweet and can be eaten raw, baked or mashed. They taste like water chestnuts and can be used fresh in salads or cooked like potatoes.
They contain a type of starch called Inulin, which converts fructose in the digestive tract (as opposed to glucose), and therefore is better tolerated by diabetics. It's low starch content also makes it a good choice for someone on a low-starch diet. Inulin can cause gas, so if you aren't used to eating them introduce them slowly to your diet.
Here is a good recipe we found for roasted sunchokes:
If anyone is interested in growing some in their garden or wants any to eat, we have a surplus and you are welcome to take some. There are about 10 lbs buried in the bed in front of the chicken coop.
They are covered by a few inches of soil, so use your hands to dig out and please cover up the others when finished so they don't dry out. They do dry out quickly so keep them in a cool place like a basement covered with soil, or in the refrigerator in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer.
Rob & Cynthia
Rob & Cynthia