Jerusalem Artichokes(sunchokes), some info

dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)December 11, 2012

Some of you may recall that last year I moved. I took along
the 4-5 piddly JA corms I'd missed in harvesting. Unsure where to site them they went into a temporary(or so I thought) soil depression (a scuff) near a downspout under about an inch of dirt. Forgotten, until they sprouted.
Over this summer these buggers grew higher than the roof.
(had the same problem with the tomato plants too).
Maybe 5 wimpy, limp corms of JA had to have used all their energy for such above ground growth so in digging up the stalks for the mulch pile..

Well, true to JA's those 5 have become 50 (hope I got them all out).

So, moral of the story is if you want to plant Jerusalem artichokes choose your site knowing they spread as fast and as widely as running bamboo (well, almost) and to enjoy the small, sunflower type blossoms you need to site them well below your viewing point.
From what I understand, most of the blossoms are sterile although the bumblebees don't care. No seed to speak of for the perching gymnastic birds to feed on. Cut the stalks back after the first good frost that droops the leaves. By Dec they should be easy to harvest after a light rainfall and start digging about 18" away from the stalk. Most of the corms will be in the top 2-3" of soil but the escapees are deeper and worth searching for or you'll never get rid of them from a bad site.

Store them cleaned of soil in a net bag in the fridge. Over the months there they'll get limp but still be viable to plant elsewhere as I found out.
Just do a better job siting them than I did. Good eating!

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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Did I say 5 made 50..LOL..after another 20 min hands and knees searching for any missed I stopped counting at
...162 jerusalem artichokes...
Not counting the teenies and less than 1" sized.
Realizing to fully get them out will take a wheelbarrow,pretty thin mesh and a hose to wash the mud that's disquising the little ones.

Still, not as bad as eradicating the pink oenoethera.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:11PM
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trianglejohn

Oops! I may have a problem on my hands next spring. Maybe lots and lots of mulch will offer some control.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 4:25PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

LOL,John..how many did you plant?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 5:34PM
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trianglejohn

I blame Ralph. He gave or sold to me 4 baby plants (he was having a plant sale, but he was also handing me things that he thought I would need). I planted them in a back corner of my garden. It took them two years to get really big. I like the plant and will probably dig some tubers this weekend to see if they taste better after a freeze (supposed to make them sweeter and nuttier). Now I wish they were in a neat row along a different edge to the space. Oh well, I'll try moving them and if they sprout from the old spot, so be it. My goal is to also use the leaves and stalks as chicken food (ground up) which may slow down their growth.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 9:35AM
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Ralph Whisnant(z7b-8 NC)

I also gave a few JA's to a neighbor two years ago. Last week she dug into her now large patch of JA's for use in making pickles and brought me about a gallon of what was left over. She and I both have a large crop and would like to get some other ideas on how to use them (I roasted mine and I am still eating them mixed with other veggies.) Any suggestions for preparation of these bountiful tubers?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 12:02AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

pickled JA? Hmm..

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:56PM
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trianglejohn

Well I dug up one of my clumps and lordy these guys are productive! I don't think it will be a problem since they taste pretty yummy. I will be researching all the recipes out there to see which techniques will suit me best - they don't call them "fart-tichokes" for nothing.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 9:52AM
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farmsteward(North Carolina 7)

Been looking for some roots with no success. Any tips on where to find some?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 12:53AM
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trianglejohn

I've seen it at many garden centers but it does seem to be seasonal. I think I saw it when they offer potatoes.

If you can make it to the Raleigh Spring Swap in April I'm sure someone will be bring some (including me).

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 11:23AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

farmsteward, you can buy a net bag of them at any bigger grocery store (they label them 'sunchokes'). That's where I first got these troublemakers. Used some and tossed the rest that had gone soft onto the mulch pile in the shade.
Nuisance location, the ground was soggy and the plants always grew tall and leaning out to get sun. Heavy topsoil, hard to get all the tubers out.

Only reason I call them troublemakers is the spread of the tuber growth makes for difficult harvesting.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 1:35PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

um..TJ..unless you plant the tubers in a long line of sunken bathtubs (enclosed area) you're not going to have a neat row after the first year. They spread every whichway but down.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:09AM
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trianglejohn

Dottie, I have plenty of space and these guys taste better than potatoes or sweet potatoes,,, at least to me. I don't know how my neighbor will feel about them though...and our gardens run along side each other. I'll tell him it is payback for the wonderful watermelons that snaked their way onto my side of the fence last year.

I also grew another sunflower relative - yacon or Bolivian Sun Root. Gorgeous plant but pretty wimpy flavor to the roots and they don't store worth a hoot. Oh well, that's why god invented plant swaps.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:19AM
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foodfrendNJ6b(6b)

I have some that i just bought today at the grocery store (never saw them in person before). I can send a few in the mail. They're knobby, look a bit like ginger.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 4:54PM
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foodfrendNJ6b(6b)

Anybody know if they're cold-hardy? i'm in nj zone 7a. or should i just eat them. so the flowers aren't showy? do they look like wild sunflowers?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 4:57PM
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trianglejohn

I'm in 7b and they survive winter just fine. They say they taste better during winter - something about freezing soil bringing out the nutty flavor. I leave them in the ground and just dig up a pot full when I want to cook them. I think the flowers are very showy and yes they look like wild sunflowers.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:19AM
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foodfrendNJ6b(6b)

thanks, triangle john

i boiled pieces of one in a pot of salted water with some potatoes. I thought they were delicious. they separated from the skin when i squeezed them, after they cooked some more. I also thought the mashed potatoes I cooked together with the sun chokes were particularly good. Unfortunately, my mom apparently hates them. and has found them disgusting every time she's tried them in the past. 3 or so times. I'm very disappointed. She likes everything. SO I'll be trying these in a pot first. What about self-seeding? an issue, or do they really only reproduce by tubers?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:22AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

foodfrendNJ,
get yourself a huge tub if you plan to potplant even one of these storebought tubers.
The lower structure underground must spread (and form tubers) to anchor a very tall plant.
I'm not kidding to say they can grow to reach the sun well over 8 feet tall. Subject to tipping over even in average wind.
They're not very deep rooted and you'll find the tubers in fall close to the stalk as well as 18 inches away so a tub
3-4 feet wide and at least 2 feet deep is what you need.
They do great in our damp heavy soils. Potting soil or some other kind of bagged soil is not what's needed.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:21AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Oh, and after harvesting 152 last fall it seems I missed 11.
At least that's how many have sprouted as of late April.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:49PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

Melvin (Ralph's bro) was telling me at the swap they do very well in large pots or tubs, so that's how i'm going to try them here to contain the exuberance and future pain in the butt factor. Mine are backed by a fence, so hopefully i can tie them up so they don't flop. He also mentioned you can whack them midseason and they keep right on growing. At the community garden we'll site them carefully and hope for bountiful harvest (which it sounds like we'll get, lol). He made some of the best pickles i've ever had with his and brought them. yum!!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:30AM
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arthurb3(8)

I love them as an ornamental in the back of my wildflower area. I think the wildlife like them, too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Arthur in the Garden!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:15PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Just an update on the 2013 'harvest'. The deer successfully and frequently browsed the JA foliage this growing season. (thought they didn't care for hairy leaves?)
So from a dozen or so stalks sprouted from a small area near the gutter downspout, and given our tremendous/frequent rains of spring and early summer I only harvested a dozen or so piddle sized JAs.

So Mother Nature disposed of a plant I didn't want in that location and the pips and tubers have gone to a permanent location and the deer can take them or leave them.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 5:12PM
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foodfrendNJ6b(6b)

So I planted my knobby store-bought ones in a large pot that a tree came in. They got plenty tall and were beautiful and disease free, but they did get eaten about 3 feet shorter at one point by my nemesis, the deer. I'm attributing their lousy production to that and the fact that I didn't water them much. The soil was really dry a lot of the time. They didn't flower. They did multiply, but not anything impressive for an invasive plant. However, I am believing you guys and have NOT dumped the dirt out. I'm sure it will grow plenty of artichokes next year. Seems like they like more water. I misunderstood the talk about them tasting better after hard frosts, though, and left them pulled up and exposed. They got soft in our hard frosts. I stuck some back under the soil and brought some in the house to see what happens over the winter.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 7:34PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Mebbe if you sink some 6' bamboo plant poles (I get them cheap at BigLots) inside the edge of that big pot and run some nylon mesh netting around it, you might keep the deer at bay.
I'm convinced that the deer pruning that prevented the natural course of flowering is why there were so few tubers.

6' might not be enough but it's worth a try.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 3:55PM
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