Garden, Plant, Cook!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sunchokes Are Up!

Dear Folks,

Back on February 19th I planted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus)  after reading up more on its great nutrient values.  A member of the sunflower family, and only a distant cousin of the globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus), this plant is grown for its roots and not the unopened flower bud of the globe artichoke.

So now I have both 'aritchokes' growing in our gardens.  The globe artichokes in fact are producing nicely now.

As I do with many edibles that I have not grown before I have planted the sunchokes in 3 different locations to see where they do best.

The top photo is in a pot, the next one is in an area we call the Meadow because it receives sun only in the middle 3-5 hours of the day, and the final photo is in a patch of parsley (with some Greek Oregano).

In the parsley patch I planted about 6-8 tubers, so far only one is "up" that we can tell.  In the meadow and pot I planted a single tuber and both are doing very well.

You can read the "planting" post here for more info on why I decided to grow these.

I have two tubers left in my crisper and we are grilling today, so I'm going to give them a try on the grill - will let you know how they turn out.

Most information on growing sunchokes talks about how invasive they can be, which is why I chose the spots I did - so I can keep an eye on them :-)  My plan is to harvest in late summer/early fall and see what kind of production I get.  I am pleased that the tubers I purchased have good staying power in the crisper.

As a member of the sunflower family, you can plant the sunchokes in the same time frame as sunflowers -- February through June.  I do know of a local farmer who is harvesting sunchokes now, so they would most likely have been planted in early - mid fall.

I purchased my chokes from Whole Foods, but if you are in the East Valley, you may wish to check out Love Grows for what they have available.

Gardening Tip:

You will notice with the sunchoke in the pot that there are several other plants growing.  I planted strawberry spinach, a basil and a bell pepper.  When I am planting something that is not a transplant, i.e., seed or tuber type plants, and I want to keep track of them AND remember to make sure they are watered properly I plant small plants to remind me there is something growing there.  Competition for nutrients is seldom a problem, but I can always top off with more compost.

Have a great day in the garden,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady