We decided to try to plant and grow sunchokes – aka Jerusalem Artichokes on the homestead. Indeed homesteading is largely about trying new things and doing what we can to be more diverse in our sustenance. We bought some Jerusalem artichoke tubers from Missourijack2 (Ebay) in Missouri. They were very good quality roots! The Sunchoke is not actually related to the Artichoke at all. It is a member of the helianthus family – the Helianthus Tuberosus. The Helianthus family is also known commonly as the Sunflower. Yes – the Jerusalem Artichoke is actually a type of Sunflower! The edible roots or tubers are high in inulin which is converted in storage to Fructose. The human digestive system cannot break down the inulin in the tubers and can cause flatulence.
The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke’s name comes from the taste of its edible tuber. To plant Sunchokes, we cut the tubers into pieces with one or two “eyes” on them similar to potatoes and plant them 3″ – 5″ deep and about 18″ apart. Be sure to set aside a part of the garden to plant these as they can quickly become invasive and actually ruin a garden area that they take over if left alone. The tubers can be dug after a good frost which makes the tubers more digestible. The Jerusalem Artichoke has been suggested as an acceptable food for those with type 2 diabetes.
Whether you are growing these for food, a windbreak or just the beautiful flowers, they are prolific plants and require care, not to grow, but limit their growth!
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