Planting Jerusalem artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke tubers are planted in the same way as potatoes. The best tubers to plant are the least knobbly ones, about the size of a small chicken egg. If you can only obtain larger tubers, however, you can cut them into pieces— each with three ‘eyes’ or buds—and plant these pieces.

Plant the tubers anytime from late winter to early spring, in holes 15 cm (6”) deep and 60 cm (2’) apart. Use a trowel or dibber to make the holes. If you are planting more than one row, space the rows 1 m (3’) apart.

Shoots should start to appear above the ground within two to four weeks, given reasonable weather.

Care and cultivation

Jerusalem artichokes require very little attention but they will need to be weeded during the spring until the plants have grown large enough to shade the soil. Weed, using a hoe, and when the plants reach about 30 cm (1’) tall, draw the soil up around the stems of the plants while weeding. In this way you will build up a mound around the stems similar to that used for potatoes. The mound encourages the production of tubers by increasing the amount of buried stem from which the tubers grow and it will also help you when you come to harvesting, as tubers in mounds are easier to lift than tubers buried deep in the ground. 3.

In temperate regions the plants will usually not need to be watered except in very dry years. If the soil becomes dry, however, give plenty of water.

Some gardeners retain moisture in the soil, and also keep down weeds, by mulching round the plants with peat or garden compost once they are about 30 cm (1’) tall. If you do this there is no need to weed or earth up—the mulch itself buries the stems to some extent.

Supporting against the wind Although Jerusalem artichokes make excellent windbreaks, on exposed sites you run the risk of them being blown down by the occasional gale. Not only would you lose your Jerusalem artichoke crop, but neighbouring vegetables could be ruined at the same time. In a very sheltered spot, alongside a wall for example, you will probably be safe just leaving the plants and giving them no support at all, but elsewhere the plants should be supported with wires. During the summer, hammer a 1.5 m (5’) stake into the ground at either end of each row and at 1.5 m (5) intervals along long rows. Then join up the stakes with wire at 60 and 120 cm (2’ and 4’) intervals from the ground. When the plants are tall enough, tie them to the wires with string.

Cut off the tops of the plants when they reach about 1.5 m (5’) tall. Taller plants are more likely to be blown over. 4.

Harvesting and aftercare

When the leaves and stems begin to turn brown and die back in the late autumn cut them down to about 30 cm (1’) from the ground. Chop the stems up and add them to your compost heap.

You can harvest all the crop as soon as the stems have been cut down in the autumn, but you are better advised to leave the tubers in the ground and to harvest as and when you need them. The tubers can be stored in dry sand or peat, but they taste better eaten fresh from the soil and also have a better texture.

Lift the tubers with a fork in the same way as you would potatoes and add the discarded haulms and roots to your compost heap. Towards the end of late winter, it is best to lift whatever tubers are left in the ground, and use the cleared site to plant new crops in the spring.

Storing the crop

Although Jerusalem artichokes taste best straight from the ground, it is worthwhile lifting some of the crop in the early winter and storing it, so that you have some readily available if the ground freezes hard. To store the tubers, gently rub off any soil adhering to them and place them, sandwich-fashion, in boxes or other containers of dry sand or peat. Keep them in a cool place. All the tubers should be under the surface of the sand or peat as they will deteriorate if exposed to light. Remember to keep some small tubers for planting.

01. September 2013 by admin
Categories: Fruit Gardening, Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Planting Jerusalem artichoke

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