When is an artichoke not an artichoke? When it is a Jerusalem artichoke, also known as a sun choke because its flowers look like sunflowers. You eat the flower buds of the true artichoke, Cynara scolymus, which is in the thistle family. You eat the swollen underground portions, the tubers, of the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).
Growing Jerusalem artichokes can be very easy, too easy in some parts of the country. Interestingly enough, it is native to the Northeast U.S. where it is also considered a huge pest because of its hard to contain rampant growth. Jerusalem Artichokes grow best in the cooler areas of the country. They should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring, about the same time as potatoes and peas.
With this in mind, you should not let it loose in your garden for fear it will take over. You can still grow it for its nutty sweetness without fear if you plant it in a deep container, at least 12 by 12 inches, deeper would be better. Space the tubers about 3 inches apart. They will thrive in a mixture of compost and good garden soil that holds moisture but doesn’t stay wet. Remember, these plants get over six feet tall. Add stakes to support the stalks as they grow and put the pot in a sunny area.
According to the North Carolina State Cooperative Extension Service, “Whole tubers or pieces of tubers that are no less than two ounces and have two or three prominent buds should be planted. Smaller seed pieces will reduce yields but larger seed pieces (over 2 oz) will not significantly increase them. Do not allow cut seed pieces to dry before planting. Plant 3 to 5 inches deep.” You can plant food Jerusalem artichoke pieces that you buy in the supermarket or from a grower or you can order seed from a vegetable catalog.
Since there are very few (to none) pest problems with these artichokes, there is no need to use any pesticides on the plants. If the plants look small or spindly, then add a fertilizer with a high middle number, which will promote good root growth.
Cut off any flowers before they have a chance to go to seed. If you allow seed to set, you still could have them self-sow in your open garden. For the best sweet taste, wait until after a frost to dig out the tubers. Store them in a refrigerator vegetable drawer that has humidity. Peel and slice them to use as you would a water chestnut in salads or soups, or chopped in Chef Linda’s great recipe this week for artichoke relish.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners ColorChoice,
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
There are few things more satisfying than seeing your beautiful garden in full bloom...and it's especially thrilling to see it abuzz with the activity of butterflies and bees. Want to bring more activity to your garden? Here's a guide to choosing unique, colorful, easy-care plants that provide a much-needed place for pollinators of all sizes to do their work.
Jump into Spring with savings up to $2200 on this Exclusive Cruise of the Rivers of Holland & Belgium with Eric Johnson Host of GardenSMART from PBS
Sail right into the pages of a storybook on our European garden tour through Holland and Belgium.
MAY 6-16, 2018
As low as $3799 per person/do, Price includes airfare from New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago. CALL FOR OTHER CITIES THROUGHOUT THE USA
Watch filming and be part of the fun, telling your favorite...and not so favorite Dirty Tales.
2 Nights Amsterdam & 7 Nights River. Visit Amsterdam, Holland, Belgium, Kinderdijk, Antwerp, Bruges, Keukenhof Gardens, Rotterdam and More!
This Exclusive, Five-Star, Cruise & Garden Tours Vacation Includes:
2 nights in Amsterdam including gorgeous hotel, wonderful tours and daily breakfast
7 nights on the new, flagship Amadeus Silver III river cruise ship
Incredible excursions in Arnhem, Kinderdijk, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Utrecht
All of your meals on board the ship, including wine with dinner