I have strong interesting in two kinds of farms: E-farm (playing with IT toys) and Dirty Farm. The Dirty Farm, as a matter of fact, is my pure passion. I have written or collected good stock of articles on various ‘crops': garlic, Chinese chives, leeks, shallots, Chinese onion, Pecan nuts, walnuts, dates, lamb, beef, goats etc. This piece is a starter, hopefully I will share other items with some of you progressively.
Jerusalem artichokes. I started grow this by an incidence. I bought a few of Jerusalem Artichokes from a supermarket and forgot to eat. After day or week, it looked awfully shrunk. So I put them in a garden patch. Surprisingly, the small sunflower looking flowers at the top in later Summer are so pretty. The edible portion of the plant is a tuber that grows beneath the soil. In late Autumn I dag out a few and ate them as nice salad, just simply washed up and cut into slides with a few drops of vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil. I left the rest in garden and they keep growing years by year, with beautiful flowers.
Jerusalem Artichokes (also called Sunchokes) area carbohydrate rich tuber, much like a potato, but Sunchokes store their energy primarily as inulin which is a fiber composed primarily of fructose. It makes this crop a good source of fiber and quite appropriate for diabetics and as a healthy source of carbohydrates. The only problem is that with the high fiber content, the food is also sometimes referred to as ‘fartichokes’.
How to Grow it
This plant is extremely easy to grow in most climates. I dag a few tubers and gave to friends to grow. Next year, he told me that Artichokes grow very easy and fast. the only problem is that his garden is not big enough, this plant became a ‘weed’ problem. he has to control the growth.
It;s similar to potatoes, you can take 1-2 oz piece of a tuber and plant it in the dirt. It will grow. In fact, it is a bit difficult to get all of the tubers when harvesting. So once you plant Jerusalem Artichokes in your garden, it is best to keep them in that spot… forever. On the bright side, they don’t really spread (unless you are tilling the area where they used to grow and spread the tubers around or if you let the rhizomes spread by not harvesting them every year), they are just hard to get rid of once you start growing them in an area.
The stalks of the plants can also be used as a low quality animal feed, and some of the large straight stalks can be dried and used as light weight stakes. As a good source of human food and an OK source of animal food that is resistant to disease and pests, the Jerusalem Artichoke can be a nice addition to a garden.