Jerusalem Artichokes

This is the first post of this kind, but I think it is important.  I’m going to post on a variety of crops and you will be able to find links to all of the posts on crops by going to the ‘crops’ heading at the top of the page.  I’m also hoping to do one on recipes that use the different crops, but I only have so much spare time.

Description

Today we’re talking about Jerusalem artichokes.  I had never heard of Jerusalem artichokes until I moved out here to the farm.  They grow to be about 8-12 feet tall and have a small sunflower looking flower at the top.  The edible portion of the plant is a tuber that grows beneath the soil.

Nutritional Information

The reason that I am making the first post of this sort is because I think that the Jerusalem Artichoke should be a staple to all sustainable gardens.  Jerusalem Artichokes (also called Sunchokes) area  carbohydrate rich tuber, much like a potato, but Sunchokes store their energy primarily as inulin which is a fiber composed primarily of fructose.  It makes this crop a good source of fiber and quite appropriate for diabetics and as a healthy source of carbohydrates.  The only problem is that with the high fiber content, the food is also sometimes referred to as ‘fartichokes’.

How to Grow it

In addition to providing a good source of carbohydrates, the plant is extremely easy to grow in most climates, but especially in Northern latitudes.  There are no known pests or diseases that disturb this crop.  It grows very well and while it doesn’t produce nearly as much as a healthy potato plant, it is easy to plant and grown lots of plants in order to get a substantial yield.

You plant the Jerusalem Artichoke similarly to potatoes.  You take 1-2 oz piece of a tuber and plant it in the dirt.  It will grow.  There are other sites where you can easily find proper spacing and rows and whatnot, but it really doesn’t matter with this crop.  In fact, it is difficult to get all of the tubers when harvesting and there have been complaints that the volunteers become a weed problem.  So once you plant Jerusalem Artichokes in your garden, it is best to keep them in that spot… forever.  On the bright side, they don’t really spread (unless you are tilling the area where they used to grow and spread the tubers around or if you let the rhizomes spread by not harvesting them every year), they are just hard to get rid of once you start growing them in an area.

Other Information

The stalks of the plants can be used as a low quality animal feed, and some of the large straight stalks can be dried and used as light weight stakes.  As a good source of human food and an OK source of animal food that is resistant to disease and pests, the Jerusalem Artichoke can be a nice addition to a garden.  And they taste good, recipes are to come.

Recipes

Roasted Vegetables

 

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4 Comments

  • At 2012.01.24 17:03, james mancuso said:

    Well done Garret

    • At 2012.01.31 03:14, Robin said:

      Thanks Garrett, great information and an asy to fallow format, I will b fallowing more of your posts. Question though; you said the stalk can make a low grade fed for animals, did you mean lare farm animals or the small house pets like rabbits?

      • At 2012.01.31 03:19, garretthoyt said:

        The stalks can be used to feed large farm animals like cows and maybe goats or sheep. You can also use them to stake plants. They aren’t nearly as sturdy as bamboo, but they can be helpful in the garden.

        • At 2013.01.17 19:21, Jeano said:

          Thank you for the information on this. I bought Jerusalem artichokes many years ago once at the farmers market. I’ve moved several times since and am now in the Greater LA area. I started seeing sunchokes in the vegetable sections of my favorite supermarket. Bought some, to try and grow but afterward I could not remember the name I’d seen so I wasn’t sure they were really Jerusalem artichokes. On the store receipt I noticed that the had sold them to me by mistake as ginger… So they sat there and I kept forgetting about them till they rotted.

          I was at the store today and there they were next to the mushrooms. So I got a few pieces and took a photo of the name in case I forgot. Looked in Sunset’s WGG and they weren’t in the index as sunchokes but when I looked up Jerusalem artichokes, the description said they were sold in supermarkets as “sunchokes”. Mystery resolved and with your info I shall make an attempt at growing them.

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