The Northcote Library Food Garden is a community garden in the heart of Melbourne's inner north. The garden is managed by a group of residents for the benefit of the community. It is a productive growing space, as well as a place for gathering and for demonstrating sustainable gardening practices. Community members are invited to become involved, either as a Gardener or as a Friend of the Garden. Please register your interest by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 tinyfarmblog.com
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.