Jerusalem artichoke, easy growing, unique taste

Jerusalem artichoke growing and care

Jerusalem artichoke is an heirloom vegetable that is reappearing in gardens, with good reason: it is delicious!

Key Jerusalem artichoke facts

NameHelianthus tuberosus
Type – vegetable, rhizome perennial

Height – 6 to 8 feet (2 to 2.5 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary

Harvest – November to March

From planting to harvest, growing it really isn’t difficult. Jerusalem artichokes will thrill you without a doubt once harvested and in your plate.

Planting and growing Jerusalem artichoke

It’s only possible to start growing Jerusalem artichoke by planting entire, fair-sized tubers. It has the great advantage of growing in all kinds of soil.

Growing Jerusalem artichoke can actually turn to become very invasive. Mark out its allocated space clearly because it tends to spread to other plots fast.

Season for planting Jerusalem artichoke

Plant the tubers preferably during the months of February-March. It’s also possible to plant up until the middle of spring.

Usually, special tubers from garden stores are used for planting. But you can also simply plant normal, store-bought tubers which were actually sold as food.

How to plant Jerusalem artichoke

  • Planting Jerusalem artichokeJerusalem artichoke grows in normal soil, but produces a more bountiful harvest when manure or manure juice is added.
  • Plant them in a row (along a wall, for example). Space each plant by about 32 to 40 inches (80 to 100 cm), because this plant spreads fast.
  • Bury the tubers 4 inches (10 cm) deep, laying horizontally in the hole, at a density of about 5½ oz (150 g) per square yard (square meter).
  • Cover with soil, don’t press down.

Jerusalem artichoke planting flower

Consider planting jerusalem artichoke in the middle of a flower bed. Its flowers are indeed a beautiful yellow color.

Jerusalem artichoke in a pot

Jerusalem artichoke bursting its containerContainer growing is one of the best options for planting this root crop. Indeed, harvesting is made very easy: when stems die off, tip the pot over and pick the tubers out!

The harder part is that it’ll need more attention and care:

  • potted plants tend to dry out faster. You’ll have to water more often, even daily during the summertime.
  • For larger crops, start adding fertilizer after the first month of growing. Best is home-made plant fertilizer so you won’t be adding unknown chemicals to your food harvest.

Harvesting your Jerusalem artichoke

When properly cared for, Jerusalem artichoke can produce a harvest of about 7 pounds (3 kg) per square yard (square meter).

Jerusalem artichoke care leads to beautiful flowers and harvest.You may start harvesting when the plants start blooming. Continue all winter long, collecting just enough for your weekly needs.

Pull the tubers out; leverage them out with a pitchfork, for instance.

Leave whatever Jerusalem artichoke tubers you don’t immediately need in the ground, that’s where they’ll keep the best.

Once dug out, it’s preferable to rinse your Jerusalem artichoke off with soft brush to remove any soil.

This extends keeping since it removes moisture: there’s a high risk of diseases developing if moisture accumulates.

  • The most appropriate spot for you to keep your Jerusalem artichoke is a cool, rather dark and dry room. Another excellent option is a vegetable silo.

Jerusalem artichoke in winter

Well-cared for jerusalem artichoke bloomingAn easy-to-grow plant, Jerusalem artichoke is extremely hardy. It can spend all winter long out in the cold without flinching. For areas where winters are cold and there’s a high chance of deep freezing, here’s a trick to make harvesting easier.

  • Shuffle up a layer of dead leaves before the first frost spells to protect them from the cold.
  • This keeps the soil from freezing up.
  • If the soil freezes deep down, harvesting will get really difficult, not to say impossible.
  • You’d have to wait for the freezing to thaw before being able to dig your spade fork in and lift the Jerusalem artichoke tubers out.

Jerusalem artichoke in the kitchen

After peeling your Jerusalem artichoke, rub it with a dash of lemon juice so it doesn’t turn black. Indeed, though the skin is edible, it’s usually better to peel it off when cooking.

With high levels of vitamins and very few calories, it will impart 4 times less calories than potatoes. This is the perfect vegetable for your weight-loss diet. With high levels of minerals and fiber, it will trigger tonic and diuretic activity in your body.

→ Try this duck sheperd’s pie with Jerusalem artichoke recipe

Native to North America, great chefs are more likely to be aware of it than the public at large. Indeed, it has a distinct artichoke-like taste. That’s why it’s called Jerusalem Artichoke.

But why Jerusalem? Some say it’s what English-speaking Americans heard when Italian-speaking Americans described the plant: “girasole“. For others, the first Pilgrims fleeing religious oppression were in search of a “New Jerusalem”. They then named the plant when they saw Indian Natives growing it. Practically, though, what they saw was a relative of Jerusalem artichoke called Helianthis.

Cooking with Jerusalem artichoke

Smart tip about Jerusalem artichoke

Once it has been dug out, eat your Jerusalem artichoke quickly because it won’t keep for very long! Best leave it in the ground until you need it.

Images: 123RF: Kaleb Kroetsch, vukvaruna, CC BY 2.0: Maja Dumat, F. Delventhal, CC BY-SA 2.0: Roberto Ferrari; dreamstime: Palinchak; Pixabay: Wolfgang Brauner, Frauke Riether