How to grow Jerusalem artichoke
How to grow and care for Jerusalem artichokes.
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is an edible tuber with a sweet, nutty flavour and crisp texture. Different to globe and Chinese artichokes, Jerusalem artichoke is a member of the sunflower family and originates from cooler parts of North America. Its stout, leafy stems grow to several metres tall, making it an excellent screen or windbreak, and its pretty flowers attract pollinators.
Jerusalem artichokes are rich in iron and potassium and can be eaten raw or cooked in soups and stews. Instead of starch, which is the main component of root veg such as potatoes, these tubers contain the carbohydrate inulin. This may have an unfortunate effect on the digestion (Jerusalem artichokes have a nickname of 'fartichokes'), though cooking and eating small amounts will help acclimatise your system.
How to grow Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes crop best in sun and free-draining, alkaline soil that isn't too rich. Water well during dry spells and draw up soil around stems for stability as the plants grow. Harvest once the stems die back in autumn.
Where to grow Jerusalem artichokes
Grow Jerusalem artichokes in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. As the foliage grows tall and can be used as a wind break you might want to grow them to create shelter. Alternatively, plant them where their pretty flowers can be appreciated.
How to plant Jerusalem artichokes
Prepare the soil by removing weeds and adding home-made compost if you have any. Plant the tubers 10–15cm deep and 30cm apart. Space rows 1.5m apart. You can grow Jerusalem artichokes in a large pot with fertile, peat-free compost.
How to care for Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes are hardy plants that need very little attention. Water the plants in dry weather. You may find that earthing up the plants like potatoes may increase your harvest.
How to harvest Jerusalem artichokes
Once the stems die back in autumn, cut back to within a few centimetres of soil level and lift tubers as required through the winter. Leave some in the ground to grow the following year.
How to store Jerusalem artichokes
Tubers keep well in the ground, but in cold areas where the soil freezes, spread a thick surface mulch of straw or wood chip, or lift and store in boxes of damp sand in a cool outbuilding. Tubers keep in the fridge for up to a fortnight, in sealed plastic bags.