Jerusalem artichokes are tubers and can therefore be cooked like potatoes. Additionally, they can be eaten raw in salads and have a flavour similar to that of a water chestnut. The tubers are easy to grow and are the target of very few pests; some insects are known to attack the stalks, but they cause very little damage. They adapt well to cooler climates, such as the northern states of the U.S., rather than the warmer, southern areas. Bear in mind that the plant of the Jerusalem artichoke can grow up to six feet high, so you will need a large, sturdy container.
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Things you need
- Large containers
- Fertiliser rich in potassium
- Hand rake or hand spade
- Plastic bags with hole
Fill containers with soil. As Jerusalem artichokes are tubers, soil that is suitable for potatoes will be ideal. Good soil for this purpose is a well drained, loose soil that has few rocks so that the roots may grow freely.
Cut the tubers into two or three pieces and place in the container. There should be at least 15 inches between plants if you're planting more than one per container. Cover them with four inches of soil. The best time to plant is in the spring, as this will result in the greatest yield at the end of the summer.
Add fertiliser to the soil. Jerusalem artichokes need plenty of potassium, but avoid fertilisers that contain high levels of nitrogen as this will cause the tops to grow and the roots to be stunted.
Water the soil when it looks and feels dry. Jerusalem artichokes require a moist environment to grow.
Pick off flower buds as soon as they appear to help the yield. Dig the tubers out of the ground with a hand rake or small spade four to six weeks after the flowers have appeared. It's advisable to pick the whole lot at once as tubers that are left in the soil will rot. The skin on the tubers is very thin, so take care not to damage or bruise it to avoid rotting.
Store the artichokes at the bottom of the refrigerator in a plastic bag with a hole to allow air to circulate.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure the tubers you plant into the ground are in optimum condition to get the best results. They should be free of bruises or rot.
- You can replant the smaller tubers with fresh soil and compost to grow another crop of Jerusalem artichokes.
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