Jerusalem artichoke is not related to true artichokes. It is in the sunflower family and closely resembles the common sunflowers. Also known as sunchoke, it is considered an invasive weed in some places, in others it is a staple crop that produces an edible tuber similar to potatoes.
Healthy Jerusalem Artichoke plants produce an average of 60 - 75 tubers per growing season, each tuber sends out 3 to 6 shoots, most of these shoots will grow into full grown plants relatively quickly. Also known as sunroot and sunchoke it is grown for its tubers which are edible and a staple in some cultures, very similar to Potatoes.
It is a perennial, you only need to plant Jerusalem artichoke once , but need to curtail its invasive nature every year.
Jerusalem Artichoke Plants
Jerusalem artichokes edible portions are the tubers that grow on its roots, they resemble misshapen potatoes and are also known as Casava.
The plants can reach about six feet in height and are laden with relatively large colorful flowers. The flowers are borne in late summer and early fall. Tubers are harvested in the fall.
Jerusalem Artichokes are high in inulin and low in carbs. The inulin breaks down when digested into fructose, it is excellent for persons restricting their carbohydrate intake or for diabetics as a potato substitute.
How to Grow a Jerusalem Artichoke
Soil should be un-compacted loose and well aerated for proper tuber development. Poorly draining soil will produce soggy useless tubers if any at all, tuber rot is more common in poorly drained and compacted soil.
A moderate amount of general purpose fertilizer is adequate.
They will produce under a wide range of soil, pH of anywhere from 4.5 to 8.0 will work , but they do produce greater yields in neutral to slightly alkaline soil - 6.5 to 7.5 .
Plant Jerusalem artichokes in the same manner you would plant potatoes. Tubers can be cut up, with each seed tuber containing several buds, much like the eyes on seed potato. Plant them in early spring, roughly 3 inches deep and 2 feet apart. Water them well and you should see sprouts breaking the soil with about 2 weeks, possibly a tad longer.
They are easily maintained, once they are established no cultivation is needed. Water daily during dry spells, use your judgement in wet weather. They should be receiving about an inch of water weekly.
Harvest when the plants begin to brown in late summer. Check the flower heads for maturity. The back becomes a yellowish brown. The smaller petals will have dried and begin falling out. Some of the blossom heads will be drooping under their own weight.
Harvest in the same manner you harvest potatoes, Dig up the plants and root system. Don't worry about leaving some in the ground, they can be harvested all winter long and will produce new plants come next season. When harvesting, if you leave even a fragment of a tuber, it will more than likely produce a new plant in the spring.
Jerusalem Artichoke can be eaten raw, it tastes similar to water chestnut and has a similar crunchy texture as well. It is most commonly cooked in the same fashion as potatoes. Boiled, Fried and baked. For recipes use the keyword "Casava" to search and yield the most relevant results.