Sunday, 13 May 2012

Jerusalem Artichokes

Our Jerusalem artichokes were planted during our first planting day in July 2011.  The tubers went into the ground in an area earmarked for perennial planting with a bit of discussion that included warnings from the experienced amongst us, “Be careful or they’ll take over!”.  They were buried at about twice their depth (20 centimetres or so) and were not much thought about again, until they began emerging from the ground with the sunflowers at the start of Summer.

No reading about Jerusalem artichokes seems complete without mention of their perplexing misnomer, being neither an artichoke, nor from the Middle East.  They are actually an edible tuber that, according to the seasoned cooks in our gardening group, can be roasted with a bit of garlic and butter and eaten thus, or turned into a delicious soup.

The tall plants (two metres plus)  flowered in late Summer with large daisy-like yellow flowers and could have been confused with the nearby sunflowers, but for their more spindly form.  They appeared to cope well without any attention or extra maintenance at all, even in the alkaline soil conditions that the NLFG has offered in the first year.  A quick read on the Gardening Australia website reveals, however, that they do enjoy a rich, well-drained soil and benefit from some added fertilizer from time to time. 

Image from
The gardeners decided to harvest some of the tubers on our late April gardening day.  At this stage, the plants were still green, but they can be harvested after the leaves wilt at the beginning of Winter as well.  From a handful of tubers that were planted last year, we harvested a couple of kilograms of Jerusalem artichokes.

It also seems negligent to write about Jerusalem artichokes without alluding to their potentially...ahem...windy side-effects.  Tamara and Ducky have experimented to reduce The Fartichoke Effect and, short of standing downwind at your next social gathering, it may just be worth a go.

Harvesting Jerusalem artichokes - April 2012

The hat runneth over!  Some of our tuber harvest.
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