Jerusalem artichoke, an effortless vegetable to grow

Pair beauty with taste and grow Jerusalem artichokes! In October, they’ll endow you with their flourishing vegetation; and all winter long, you’ll be savoring their delicious tubers.

Jerusalem artichoke, a short story

World War II was a time when Jerusalem artichokes were doled out as military rations, and the trauma connected to the war led the following generations in Europe to forget about this plant. Today, it rises again in the esteem of many thanks to its health benefits and its delicious taste. Since it is low-calorie and rich in vitamin and minerals, this delicate vegetable has a taste that is somewhat reminiscent of artichoke. To make it more digestible, add a pinch of baking soda to the water used for boiling.

If Jerusalem artichoke takes a liking to your garden, it will be there to stay. Remember that before planting! It is extremely easy to grow, and although it thrives most in well-draining soil, it still spreads happily in virtually all kinds of soil. It can reach heights of up to three yards (three meters), like its cousin the sunflower. Set it up towards the rear of your vegetable bed, it will make for an effective windbreaker in fall while staying very ornamental thanks to its yellow flowers!

Easy to grow

Plant your tubers at the end of winter. If you haven’t prepared your soil during the fall, simply spade it over after a drenching rain. Sink the tubers in the ground down to more or less 4 inches (10 cm) deep, one every 20 inches (50 cm).

Leave walking space between rows, about 32 inches (80 cm). This thriving plant hedge will grow tall, so pull out a wire between two tall poles so you can contain the stems and help them stay upright. That’s all there is to it: the plant will grow fine without any further attention.

Keeping in the garden

keeping jerusalem artichokeOnce winter has settled in, simply leave your Jerusalem artichoke tubers be, in the ground. It’s the best way for this vegetable to keep; when exposed to air, it tends to wilt away and shrivel up.

If you expect freezing but still wish to pull your tubers out, then pull out several plants all in one shot. Flip the soil over, and dunk the tubers in a water, rustling them up for them to rub the dirt off one another. Dry them out, and then store them in an airtight container that should stay in the cool but without freezing. Your Jerusalem artichoke roots will stay fresh for 3 to 6 weeks. Repeat whenever you need more.

If you plan on growing more next year, keep a few tubers aside: plant them at the end of winter… but expect that more will grow back on their own, because there’s always a root left over here and there!

M.-C. H.

Image credits: Phovoir, Flower: © Christian Fischer

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