A sunflower relative and not an artichoke at all, Jerusalem artichoke is grown for its tuberous roots that are very easy to cultivate. The roots have a rich, nutty flavour and are great roasted or made into soup. The plants themselves can grow very tall – upwards of 3 metres – and produce lots of small, bright yellow sunflower-like flowers. Jerusalem artichokes are very easy to accommodate in most garden soils, they grow so well they are often used – like potatoes – to break up soil for cultivation. Jerusalem artichokes are renowned for being persistent plants once they get into your garden thanks to small tubers that can be missed at harvest time – if this might be an issue you can grow them in a tyre stack or small, isolated bed that should contain their growth.
Companions Climbing bean, cucumber.
Quantity 1 plant per person
J ARTICHOKE VARS TO BE ADDED a reliable heirloom variety that grows up to a good forearm-length in height – try fitting that in your lunchbox! Does not need earthing up and blanching.
Elne french heirloom variety. Tightly packed stems with good flavour. Fast grower, stems need covering to keep white.
Cutting Celery produces thin dark green stems that can be eaten raw as well as cooked. Compact grower - good in containers.
Plant tubers in early spring.
Jerusalem artichokes like a sunny spot but will grow in partial shade. They grow tall and may need support. Because of their height they will cast shade over plants on their south side - this might be useful for sheltering leafy greens like spinach and salads in high summer. You can grow climbing beans up your Jerusalem artichoke stems and the beans will reward them with nitrogen that they fix into the soil. Cucumbers can be grown amongst them too – they benefit from a spot of dappled shade as well as minerals that are drawn up from deeper soil by the artichoke roots.
Jerusalem artichokes grow well on most soils as long as they are not too water-logged. Soil shouldn’t be too richly composted or the stem and foliage growth will be excessive.
Plant small tubers whole - if they are about egg-sized - and cut larger ones into similar-sized pieces. Tubers should be place about a forearm’s length apart and about a finger’s length deep. It doesn’t matter which way up you place them.
Shoots should appear within a few weeks of planting. When they get to just above ankle height, draw earth around them as you would a potato shoot. You only need to do this once. Keep a good layer of mulch around the base of your plants and water well during dry periods. Keep an eye out for slug damage overnight. If you see evidence of attack then go on a slug hunt and utilize slug control methods. Once they get tall, Jerusalem artichokes are vulnerable to any strong winds that could topple the 3 metre tall stems. This is more of a problem for plants growing around them that might get damaged or crushed so its worth supporting your Jerusalem artichokes with sturdy canes and rope or twine.
When the tall stems and foliage start to wilt and die back in autumn, the tubers are ready for harvest. They can easily be pulled up by gently levering soil beneath plants with a fork. Only dig up what you want to eat at any one time as the tubers go soft within about a week of being lifted from the soil. To store them in the ground, cut down stems to about ankle height and mulch over plants with straw if frosts are forecast. You then help yourself as you need to.
It is important to thoroughly dig through soil after harvest to ensure that all small tubers are removed. Any small remaining tubers will re-grow in the following season - which may suit you if you want to carry on growing Jerusalem artichokes but on the other hand it may leave you with a persistent and unwanted crop.