Sunday, January 18, 2009

Jerusalem Artichokes/Sunchokes

A while back I read a book called "Gardening when it counts: Growing food in hard times" which was an excellent book. The point of the book was to show how to produce the most amount of food...with the least amount of resources. There are certain crops that really are "good times" crops...and other crops that you grow because you need to fill your belly. There are methods of gardening that work best in good times...and other methods that may need to be employed times get hard.

In the book he has a table that shows which varieties of crops require the most care and have the highest soil requirements and those with the least. On the table as being one of the plants that needs the least amount of care...doesn't require the best of soil...and is seriously hard to kill is something that you may have never heard of before.

It's called a Jerusalem Artichoke or Sunchoke. The funny thing is that they are not from Jerusalem...nor are they an artichoke. They are in the sunflower family and produce beautiful flowers. They grow all over the world. The thing that makes them desirable for a food plant is the tubers they produce. They are described as having various flavors...some like artichoke...others like potato...etc. Some are really knobby...others smooth.

Anyone who has grown them will tell you..."Put them in a place where you don't want to plant anything else ever again!" Apparently once they are established they will spread...and when you go to pull out a tuber...the tiniest nub left underground will grow more plants! As you might imagine...being in the sunflower family...they can grow pretty tall. One woman told me she used it as a border to her a natural wall.

I personally have never grown these...or frankly ever eaten them. I have had enough people "in the know" tell me how wonderful that they are to eat...fresh or raw...and the fact that they are a "hard times" food was enough to sell me on them. I had desires to start last season but found that all the places that sell them only do so during a short period of time. I marked my calendar...and now it is time!
Fedco seeds is presently offering 3 from the from Eastern Siberia...and one from Austria!
Here is a video on Jerusalem Artichokes

No comments:

Post a Comment