Wednesday, September 5, 2007
In my garden, I try all kinds of interesting plants. Some of them I try because I have eaten it and liked it. Some are because I can't find it in a store. Others are because store bought types are just too expensive or not very tasty. I finally decided to try Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes). In the market (when you can find them) Jerusalem artichokes are about $4.00 per pound. They look like small, knobby potatoes. They are low in carbohydrates and taste a bit like water chestnuts. I have eaten them raw in salads, cooked like potatoes, and put them in Spinach dip instead of water chestnuts. So I decided to try growing them. The Garden reference book said they will grow anywhere in Northern America. It also said they are invasive and thrive on neglect. Oh, I can do with some neglect!
So this is a picture of the Sunchoke in flower. It is about 8 feet tall. The seeds should be viable, but you can never find Sunchoke seeds anywhere. Apparently if it goes to seed it makes less bulb. But I am OK with that because I want the seed, too. So I will let some of them produce seed.
The Sunchoke is harvested in the winter after just about everything has been eaten. It can tolerate some soil frost and keeps well in the ground. If you cut the stalk off at about 6 inches high you can easily find the spot where the bulbs are.
These seem to be very happy here. The grasshoppers are loving it too, but the plant seems to grow faster than the bugs are eating it. I am hoping for a modest first crop and about an ounce of seed. After I find out if the seed is viable I can share it with my friends. We can replant and enjoy a plant food that has been in our country for thousands of years and no one now knows about.