Tomatoes following Jerusalem artichokes

greentongueMay 6, 2008

I have a "kill zone" where I am removing an unwanted invasion of Jerusalem artichokes that's been there at least 15 years.

I planted Mule Team tomatoes in that and adjoining area, and another in my neighbor's yard for her. My tomatoes in area where Helianthus tuberosum has grown are yellow and sickly and not growing. My plants farthest from the concentration of Jerusalem artichokes and the one in my neighbor's yard are fine -- green and growing!!

I know that Helianthus annuum exudes a substance from its roots that retards / prevents seedling sunflowers and possibly other species from growing in its root zones.

Does this perchance apply to Jerusalem artichokes?? I'd appreciate an expert's opinion on this?

greentongue - Arkansas Ozarks

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Definitely NOT an expert, but my companion planting book says sunflowers (which are related to JAs) excrete a substance from their roots that inhibits or hurts in other ways most plants--this does not seem to apply to cukes.

As the JA tubers are almost IMPOSSIBLE to remove from soil in an area where they have been grown, so maybe there are lots of little tuber fragments around

This is not an expert opinion, more a random wild guess--andI'd like to hear from an expert too :D

My guess is you probably stil have JA tuber fragments hiding underground.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 10:34PM
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I just planted those tubers deliberately for the first time. You people are scaring me.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:12PM
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Hey, Raise!

Don't be scared! Just expect them to come up forever--and they are yummy, so a few vulonteers might be nice. Re. JA-I have read that if you plant it once, it never goes away--which is not necessarily a bad thing.

This is from a NCSU documentIfound on the web:

The Jerusalem artichoke is a very strong growing perennial and can become a weed problem. Since it is nearly impossible to harvest all the tubers in a field or garden, there will be a large number of volunteer plants the following spring. It is important to destroy all these volunteer plants before they can set tubers in August.

The other thing I found says nothing about Jerus killing tomatoes--just not being very good for potatoes. See link below!

I also wonder how the Jerus were removed in the first place? Digging them all up/using a potato rake? Herbicide? How long ago they were removed? We might be blaming the plant for something not related to it at all.

Here is a link that might be useful: Companion planting link

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 12:32AM
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THANK YOU, Susaneden! I think your link was my answer!

Potatoes are such close relatives of potatoes that they can actually be grafted onto each other to make novelty plants. Both Family Solanacea.

The Jerusalem artichokes got there around 1990-91 when I was developing the bed with lots of compost for strawberries in 1992. A few small scraps were accidentally thrown in a bucket of compostable kitchen scraps.

Then I was gone from my gardens for 3 years so unable to work the area...I discovered the sunchokes there when I came back! Then even more years before I came back to seriously use that soil. By this time, I had a thicket of them about 10 feet square (good soil, remember!), and this spring is my first serious attempt to remove them.

I began by pulling them out as they came up, and of course I am still pulling them out. My solution will be real simple... MOVE THE TOMATOS!! Since tomatoes stem root so well, I figger I can move them, and very likely they will recover, as they strike new roots in different soil. Think about the consignment plants so widely sold in this country that are treated with growth inhibitors.... and come with instructions to set them deeply....

Crimson honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), iris (bearded), a hardy amaryllis family bulb (Lycoris squamagiera), Walking onions (Allium cepa viviparum), seedling native trees and briars, and a large clump of Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensus "Stricta)have endured the invasion and are still growing well. A large planting of Asiatic lilies was over-run and all of them are dead, but it could be from shading as much as competition from roots, as they sunchokes when they come up grow so much fasters and very soon cut off the sun to the lilies below.

Your answer and time spent researching are very much appreciated!

I may dedicate the space to a year of no crop while I pull every last shoot that comes up all summer... then I can see how long it takes the soil to clear of their toxins.

greentongue - Arkansas Ozarks

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 12:11PM
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So glad I could help! I was thinking about trying some of these (hence the research), but if I do--they will be in bushel baskets--not in my soil (I do not have enough space for a bed of these things to overrun :D )

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 8:12PM
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Don't know if this is useful... SO HARD to translate between zones .... but the grass Miscanthus sinensis was such a dense clump the sunchokes stopped there. They managed to invade a bed of iris, a mass planting of Hemerocallis fulva (Tawny daylily), come up thru an area that is honeysuckle for humming birds underplanted with Naked Ladies (called that in California... more prudish Southern ladies prefer the names "Surprise Lilies" or "Resurrection Lilies"), and fatally invade a planting of 4 ft tall Asiatic lilies.

I control a lot of potential pest plants by planting in waste areas, then letting mowing control them as they attempt to migrate to lawn areas, etc. Fragrance of mint drifts thru our yard every time my husband mows.

The reason for planting in soil is that, in my extremely hot climate, containers are hard to keep watered enough, and many plants need more root space than even a 5 or 10 gallon container provides. Also, that solves the problem of trying to get everything into safe storage when winter comes.

If you have a place between a deep-set sidewalk and the street, that might work for your sunchokes? They bloom so late here that I suspect you will not see blossoms in your area?

I like the taste of sunchokes OK, but they are so fiddly to work with in the kitchen, so I never bothered with them a 2nd time... Lots of other great vegetables out there that get me done making supper at a reasonable hour!

Thanks again for your help... and I hope you have a successful garden this summer.

Greentongue - Arkansas Ozarks

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 10:57PM
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So my basic raised bed from will not contain these? They will go under it or something? Oh drat.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 11:06PM
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Have you thought about solarizing to get rid of the sunchokes?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 6:59AM
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Thanks for suggestions... but solarizing is to KILL EVERYTHING. I have so many long-time perenniels in so many areas that I just have to deal with invasions by digging. Killing by solarizing would damage Crimson honeysuckle and Naked Ladies that are naturalized to provide all summer hummingbird nectar flow.

I do not know how deep roots of Jerusalem Artichokes go. We hired a backhoe man to set a flashing 24 inches deep behind our bamboo. If I have time, I'll dig and see how deep the roots are on mine. I know the tubers are mostly 4-6 inches below ground because sometimes they pull up with the shoot when I yank it.

I don't use raised beds here because they dry out so fast in our summer heat. I know anything NEAR them will invade them cuz I've seen it happen to my neighbors... rhyzomatous grasses, tree roots, etc.

Jan -- Arkansas Ozarks greentongue

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:36AM
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instar8(Z 5 N.IN)

I thoughtthe bad effect of sunflowers came from the seeds? Maybe you could call the county cooperative extension and ask about the roots, they've got access to all the research, or maybe they've dealt with the problem before.

The closer relations of JA, the wild perennial sunflowers, don't seem to bother grasses and other plants growing around them.

I would wonder too, if such a strong growing, thickly colonizing plant like that doesn't suck all the nutrition out of the soil? Once you know you have all the the little tubers out, some nice composted manure might be helpful.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 1:08PM
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