Perhaps my New Favorite Garden Toy

OK, most of you are probably thinking I’m going to talk about a tool, but actually I wanted to mention Jerusalem Artichokes aka Sunchokes.

I planted some of these this year for the first time ever, and I’m impressed with them.  They grew fantastic, made nice flowers on the top, provided a huge amount of food to the chickens and in the end, gave me the tubers you see below.  This bowl is full from half of the section I planted.  I created a bed on the south side of my compost pile that is between 3 and 4 ft long.  I planted the Sunchokes in double rows within that bed.  I didn’t amend the soil or anything.  I just dug a trench, put in the tubers and filled it back.

Now, being on the south side of my compost pile probably provided a fair amount of runoff fertilizer, but I’m still amazed at how bountiful they produced.  The bowl below is 7 lbs worth.  (my scale measures in whole pounds)  They don’t seem to produce on the scale of potatoes, but this is still something considering that they are basically plant it and forget it.  I just hope we don’t have trouble digesting them like some people say can happen.

Later this fall I’ll harvest the remainder and we’ll see where we end up.  I dug these up because I cut back the plants as they were all over the place and I was anxious to see how they did.  I hear that if you wait until after there is some frost they sweeten up.  We’ll see if that’s true.

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6 responses to “Perhaps my New Favorite Garden Toy

  1. Good looking tubers!

    If you choose to mash them, change the water a few times before you’re done boiling them to reduce the gas that they can make which can be, er, significant.

    Seriously considering these as an ethanol feedstock on a much larger scale, but not sure is I want to see an acre lost to sunchokes for all time!

  2. I’m not sure how you would go about harvesting them on a scale that large. With a potato harvester?

  3. Matt, I planted some jerusalem artichokes later this summer. I found some at the local co-op and decided to plant them. I am surprised at how quickly they grew!

  4. My friend had these gorgeous flowers growing all over her yard, and she didn’t know what it was. I told her I thought it was Jerusalem artichoke. So, I took a sample, and after a bit of research, I discovered that she did, indeed, have Jerusalem artichokes … and they are prolific! She has a teeny little yard with this huge, overgrown patch of Jerusalem artichoke. I think she doesn’t realize that she could feed herself for a couple of months with those ;).

    Well, I told her. So, now she knows :).

  5. Wendy–

    You should dig some of hers up and plant them in your yard. They are super easy and they will provide food for you, your chickens, wild birds and insects and your compost pile. Sounds like a winner to me.

    Mine got at least 12 ft tall so they would be useful to shade something in the summer too if you needed shade somewhere.

  6. I am still harvesting the jerusalem artichokes from last years crop. I discovered that 2/3 grated jerusalem artichokes (rinsed well in cold water) to 1/3 shredded potatoes makes a lovely fried hashbrowns.

    I was very happy with how they did last year and the tubors hold over great in the soil. They seem to be a nice food plant for Iowa gardeners. This year I am planting them one side of the house that gets hot in the summer from the sun beating down on it. I think the jerusalem artichokes will provide nice shade and keep my bedroom cooler, but they will be gone in winter when I want the sun.

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