Jerusalem Artichoke

Dahlia

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I just learned a little about this cool plant and I want to try growing it! Has anyone ever tried growing these? Another name for them is "sun chokes." I read they are like potatoes, but more nutritious.
 

Zeedman

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They are a root vegetable, but very low in starch & digestible carbohydrates. Often eaten by diabetics, due to their low glycemic index. The tubers are rather small, but a single plant can produce large numbers. Sunchokes are very winter hardy, and are best harvested in Fall or early Spring. The tubers don't keep well, so best left in the ground until needed. I like them best raw, they are somewhat carrot-like. Kind of a pain to peel; some varieties are knobby, so be sure to get a variety with smooth(er) tubers.

I've been growing a variety obtained from Will Bonsall for about 20 years. If you want to grow sunchokes, think in terms of permaculture, or edible landscaping. The plants are tall & sunflower-like in bloom... but VERY invasive. If grown in a vegetable garden, it is virtually impossible to harvest every single tuber, and they will come up the next year as weeds. At present, they permanently occupy a distant corner of my property. But when I was gardening in a sandy location, I could harvest the tubers by soaking/flooding the soil around the plants, then gently - with frequent agitation to liquefy the soil - pull out the whole plant & all attached tubers.
 

Ridgerunner

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VERY invasive. If grown in a vegetable garden, it is virtually impossible to harvest every single tuber, and they will come up the next year as weeds. At present, they permanently occupy a distant corner of my property.
I've never grown them. A few years back my wife asked me to grow them, but comments like this on this forum decided me to not try them. I've also read about how invasive mint can be but I grew mint. I had a place next to a workshop and enclosed by a sidewalk where it could easily be contained. It was no problem at all.

It's one reason I like this forum. People have tried a lot of things and will give an honest assessment of what to expect and how to succeed. Or what to avoid.
 

flowerbug

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heh, mints, we've had some mints escape even across 30ft of crushed rinsed limestone. the seeds probably were washed around. we now have at least three mint patches out in various grassy areas that we just mow through all the time. i've not gone after them to weed them out. there's also some thymes that have escaped too.
 

Zeedman

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heh, mints, we've had some mints escape even across 30ft of crushed rinsed limestone. the seeds probably were washed around. we now have at least three mint patches out in various grassy areas that we just mow through all the time. i've not gone after them to weed them out. there's also some thymes that have escaped too.
That must make the task of mowing more pleasant. :) More pleasant then having wild onions in the lawn.
 

BeanWonderin

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I have grown Sunchokes and enjoyed it quite a bit. They do tend to get pretty tall and eventually will develop something like a small sunflower. They are part of the sunflower (Helianthus) family but unlike our cultivated sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) they are native to North America. They are not supposed to cross with the annuus species.

I can attest that they will spread but in my experience it was totally manageable - better than my mint experience. I grew them along a fence in town and later wondered if my neighbor ended up fighting them back on his side of the fence.
 

BeanWonderin

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The tubers don't keep well, so best left in the ground until needed.
I have read this before but it doesn't match my experience. I once saved some sunchoke tubers in a bag in the fridge over the winter so that I could plant them the next year. I missed my window of opportunity, however and at the 18 month mark decided it was too late to plant them. On inspection, to my surprise, they were as nice as I remember them being fresh out of the ground. I sliced and ate some raw and cooked the rest. I couldn't distinguish any degradation in texture or flavor.
 

flowerbug

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I have grown Sunchokes and enjoyed it quite a bit. They do tend to get pretty tall and eventually will develop something like a small sunflower. They are part of the sunflower (Helianthus) family but unlike our cultivated sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) they are native to North America. They are not supposed to cross with the annuus species.

I can attest that they will spread but in my experience it was totally manageable - better than my mint experience. I grew them along a fence in town and later wondered if my neighbor ended up fighting them back on his side of the fence.

if you like your neighbors you put in a good root barrier. :)
 

meadow

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Yes, we've grown them. They were grown away from the garden so that they could naturalize. Everyone else in the family loves them (we've only cooked them along with duck or goose) but I was kind of 'meh.' They could be a valuable resource though for food security.

After twenty years or so, DH mowed them down (they are super easy to get rid of). The patch was providing the perfect habitat for undesirable critters, giving them easy access to the garden. So you might want to plant it in a far corner of the property, assuming you're looking for a naturalized-type planting.
 

digitS'

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The property owners where I had a garden years ago once had a garden that included sunchokes. About the time that I showed up, they had abandoned gardening but the sunchokes continued.

My garden space was nearby and I was given permission to forage in the sunchoke patch. I thought that they tasted like a cross between carrots and peanuts - & really liked them raw!

However, I was aware that they had limited digestibility and was concerned that they might cause problems. This was especially so because I had a hard time leaving them alone :D. Snack, Snack, Snack and Snack some more. I decided that it would be best for me to not grow them and in the 35 - 40 years since, have never had any in my garden. I might have been mistaken in all of this but, if they were gonna cause someone problems, I figured that it might be me.

Steve
 

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