Sun Choke?

slowpoke_gardenerOctober 27, 2012

My neighbor gave me three plants this past spring, Sun Choke, I think is what he called them. I dug under one of them to see what I could find. I found a bunch of white, hard knots. Do they always look like this, and what do I do with them? They were planted beside the driveway in hard, sorry soil and had very little care. Is this a plant that is worth growing? I assume that if it were planted in better soil the fruit would be larger and smoother?

Larry

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mulberryknob

Larry, that is actually a great looking crop. I am envious. George gave us some lovely starts a couple years ago, and we got one good year and then the next year the underground critters ate them all. The tubers are small and knobby, but so good in the middle of the winter when there is nothing else crunchy in the garden. They keep a long time in the frig crisper too. They can be cooked but we like them best raw, sliced into a salad or slaw like you would radishes.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 12:46AM
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macmex

I agree with Dorothy. That's a nice looking harvest. Hopefully they have responded to our first freezes enough to taste sweet and nutty, rather than bland. When dug before a hard freeze Sunchokes will still be good to eat, but they don't have as good flavor.

The last two years of drought has taken its toll on our sunchokes. We actually had a planting, where they got almost no watering, die out this year! But a couple of plants in our main garden survived. I intend to plant them in quantity for the 2013 growing season. We love them, and we consider them to be a good "famine" food, in that they will produce a good deal of food, which will fill ones stomach, when times get tough.

In spite of calling them "famine food," we do consider them to be delicious. Eaten raw, they generally taste like a water chestnut. Also, I can report, that when I eat them raw I have no issues with flatulence. Flatulence is the main problem some have with this crop. The main starch in the sunchoke is not easily digestable in the human digestive track. It breaks down slowly, which can cause issues with gas. This same issue makes the sunchoke a good potato substitute for diabetics.

When we cook them, we boil in two changes of water, no matter what else we may want to do with them. If we want to serve them baked, we boil them in two changes of water first. If we want to make French fries with them, we first boil them in two changes of water; all this to take care of the flatulence issue. I hadn't grown them for several decades when we started back into them a couple of years ago. I threw some in the oven and baked them, without boiling beforehand. They tasted oh, so good! They tasted so good, in fact that I really indulged, taking several helpings. Later that night I was in agony, wondering if one could die from gas!

Most sunchokes are about the size of those in your picture. The variety we have can grow larger. I've found them up to the size of a soft ball. But most are much smaller.

The main enemy you'll find, for maintaining sunchokes, is precisely what Dorothy mentioned: rodents. Voles tunnel under them, eating the roots and causing entire clumps to simply dry up and die. There will be NO ROOTS at all, under them. We once had a groundhog make a hole right in our sunchoke patch. He was happily eating his way through the patch, from underground! Maybe sunchokes accounted for the superior eating quality of that groundhog.

Okay, I have to go! Larry, you've got a good neighbor! Hope you enjoy the sunchokes.

George
Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 8:12AM
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slowpoke_gardener

Dorothy, George, thanks, I will try to work harder on the next crop, and hopefully learn to use and grow them. Is this a crop you harvest as you need them, or dig and store?
I have already mowed the tops down. The crop was right on the top of the ground so I mulched over the two other stumps.

Larry

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 9:38AM
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macmex

You did right Larry. They keep alright, if one puts them in the vegetable section of the fridge, in a bag, with something moist, to maintain moisture. But they seem best if left in the ground until needed.

George

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 5:21PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I like the flowers they produce in wild parts of the garden. The last two years have not been good for fussy flowers.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 1:10AM
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ezzirah011(7a)

I am glad to hear this. I was looking up what one was by another name and then I remembered this thread. My husband and I have been curious about them, he has recently been diagnosed diabetic. So this maybe a good substitute to grow in the same spot I was going to put potatoes!

Where do you get good seed?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:13AM
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macmex

Ezzrah,

I need to check and see how our few did, this year.They've been way down because of the drought. But if we have enough, I could send you a small priority mail box of roots for $6.00.

Also, here's a link to Oikos Tree Crops, which is a WONDERFUL company, "specializing" in all kinds of alternative crops. I've noticed that Oikos Tree Crops has really gotten into Sunchokes, over the last few years. Oikos is not cheap. But anything you get from them will be worth it.

George

Here is a link that might be useful: Oikos Tree Crops/ Jerusalem Artichokes

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:03AM
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slowpoke_gardener

Ezz.

I will be glad to send some also for just whatever shipping will cost. I have only checked under one plant, but if the other two have produced like this one I will have plenty because we have not learned how to use them properly. We did have one in a salad, I could not taste the Choke. We will also try other ways to eat them.

Larry

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:18PM
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ezzirah011(7a)

So you plant them by the root? like you do pototoes they have "eyes"?

Of course if either of you wants to send some I would be happy to have you send it COD, or reimburse you, pay you ahead of time, or however you would want. I would be very grateful!!!

Looks like I have another bed to make! LOL!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 4:56PM
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slowpoke_gardener

I will be glad to send some roots, but someone needs to tell me how and when, because I know nothing about them. I tried to grow then two times before and they rotted or something ate them. My neighbor gave me the three plants I planted by our driveway. They did not bloom very well, but they also had very little care. Two of them were blown over by high wind, the other was run over by a car. I just left them in place and the limbs started growing up again. I also dont know what kind they are.

Larry

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:16PM
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macmex

They hold best when left in the ground until needed. But one can harvest them any time now and keep them in the crisper section of the refrigerator. They should be wrapped in plastic and have something like a damp paper towel in with them, to maintain humidity. This way, they will hold for quite a while. If simply stashed in the fridge, without anything to maintain moisture, they quickly dry out and go bad.

They can be shipped by, first placing them in something like a plastic grocery sack along with some damp paper towels. This all can then be boxed in a priority mail package and mailed. They will make the trip just fine.

Larry, if you would like, go ahead and make arrangements with Ezzirah. I have yet to get out and see what I have. If you should find you can't, then someone post here and let me know.

George

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:43PM
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slowpoke_gardener

George, I feel like the ones I have not harvested are still good. The ones I dug are starting to get soft.(I did not store them properly)

Ezzirah, let me know when you want them and I will harvest and pack some to ship to you.

Larry

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:26PM
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ezzirah011(7a)

Larry - I am sending you an email....

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:33AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I'm glad George mentioned Oikos. They do carry a fascinating array of native plants, and send out e-mails throughout the year to let you know when they have something new.

Fedco is also a good source of different sunchoke varieties, through its Moose Tuber branch. Please note that FEDCO is a co-op that only accepts orders during a specific time frame. Johnny's Selected Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange are two other good sources.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Jerusalem Artichokes at Moose Tuber

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:03AM
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ezzirah011(7a)

I noticed while reading around about them they are perennial, when do I plant them? Now?

(I was going to ask this to Larry in an email, but I thought someone who maybe interested and reading the thread may want to know...)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 4:15PM
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mulberryknob

Nows good, as is anytime all winter that the ground isn't frozen. They should be mulched good.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 8:42PM
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