Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes

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Helianthus tuberosus. Jerusalem Artichokes are also known as Sunchokes. A closer relative to the sunflower than the artichoke, this majestic, tall, ornamental plant produces edible, tuberous roots that have a potato-like texture. However, they have a sweeter, nuttier flavour than potatoes, and sliced thinly, they can be used raw in salads. The plant forms new roots with gusto, and can produce as many as 100 new roots from each plant in a year. For this reason, they should be lifted and harvested at the end of the season, and eaten, shared, and replanted. Plants grow to 3m (9′) tall, with numerous yellow flowers in summer that are attractive to bees and other wild pollinators. Hardy to Zone 4.

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Planting Sunchokes:
Plant tubers in early spring (March on the Coast) to provide for a long growing season. Plant in full sun, in neutral soil (pH 7.0 is ideal), but enrich the soil first with lots (minimum 5cm (2″) layer) of well rotted compost and some glacial rock dust. The plants grow so easily and robustly that you may be tempted to leave them in the ground, but this is not recommended. For one, the flavour of the roots degrades when not planted each year in fresh, fertile soil. And the plants can spread rapidly. Because the plants are so tall, this is not a desirable outcome. Plant the tubers 10-12cm (4-5″) deep, and 40cm (16″) apart. A 25 square foot planting can produce over 100 pounds of harvested roots, so 3 tubers are ample for most households.

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