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Sunchoke Planting Time!


Just a few minutes ago something landed with a big thud on our front porch. I opened the door and found the best surprise: a little box from Nichols Garden Nursery. I knew that my sunchoke tubers were inside! They don’t look like much now, but these knobby little tubers will send up stalks topped with happy yellow flowers in late summer. Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem Artichokes) are native to North America. The tubers have a delicious flavor that falls somewhere between a water chestnut and an artichoke and the flowers grow to nearly six feet tall.

They are the very definition of an ornamental edible. I’m planting mine right by the front door and sowing a mix of cosmos, zinnias, bacherlor buttons, and coreopsis at their feet. I just love that I’ll be able to enjoy the flowers all summer and then dig up something edible in fall. So fun!

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9 Responses to “Sunchoke Planting Time!”

  1. 1
    Courtney Says:

    Can’t wait to see them! I had no idea this was how Jerusalem Artichokes grew. Maybe I’ll have to give them a try..
    .-= Courtney´s last blog ..Stuff’s Finally Growing!! =-.

  2. 2
    gardenmentor Says:

    I’m curious if they’ll become invasive. Do you know their potential to take over? They grew wild in ditches and fields all around my childhood farm – easy foraging, but in a small garden? I’m curious to see how they do over time. (Oh, and did I say, “YUM!”?)
    .-= gardenmentor´s last blog ..Aphids Suck – In More Ways Than One =-.

  3. 3
    Willi Says:

    Courtney–They are very pretty plants in themselves, the fact that you get to eat the tubers is a bonus!

    GardenMentor–It’s true, they do spread. To prevent this, wait until frost hits to harvest the tubers. Start by cutting the stalks down to two inches. Dig up the whole clump of tubers, replant three or four, and then eat the rest.

  4. 4
    Matt Wilson Says:

    I LOVE this plant. It is ridiculously productive. The tubers taste great and they’re trivial to cook. After trying lots of preparations, my favorite recipe involves cutting them into rounds, steaming them, and then tossing them with a little olive oil and salt paper. Steamed sunchokes with fried eggs and coffee is the perfect breakfast.

    One thing — you’ll get some wicked gas if you eat these things before the frost sweetens them up. More gas than eating all the beans in Mexico.

    I didn’t get any flowers until nearly September. Do other people get more flowers earlier?
    .-= Matt Wilson´s last blog ..Farm report spring 2010 =-.

  5. 5
    Grace Says:

    I have grown this plant with success – they are gloriously tall and cheerful. In my vegetable garden, they have not been invasive, perhaps because I have been diligent about digging them up – the wary could try growing them in a pot, sunk into the dirt.

    However, make sure you read the Wikipedia article on Sunchokes, especially the part about ‘inulin’, a carbohydrate that is not easily digested, hence flatulence. We spent an entertaining evening after serving a delicious sunchoke soup. Treat like any potato – hash browns, quiche, etc.

    Love the quote via Wikipedia, from Gerard’s Herbal, printed in 1621, who himself quoted the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes:

    “which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.”

    I have heard that cooking them with the herb ‘Epazote’ helps cut down the gas. You can also twice-cook them to break down the complex sugar.

    By the way, if you can’t find it in the nursery, you can buy it in the grocery store, and it will grow nicely! There is only the one cultivar, and they don’t do anything to inhibit growth before hitting the grocery store shelves.

  6. 6
    ann Says:

    We just dug up and divided ours. There were lots for sharing, replanting and eating. Yummy! I love to boil them until soft, then slice them and saute them in butter.
    I have them planted around our chicken yard for shade and aiding the soil.

  7. 7
    Sputnik Says:

    Mine have just poked their lovely green shoots through the soil. Such a marvelous little plant that really could use some good PR. I cant wait for the Sunchoke homefries this fall.

  8. 8
    mark v Says:

    I planted some of these last year and they won’t go away. :-( I ended up with a bunch of reasonable sized tubers but my wife wouldn’t cook them and I didn’t know what to do with them. How do you store them?

  9. 9
    greg Says:

    These are great plants but I couldn’t believe the $18 Nichols wanted for a lb plus shipping. I picked up a few at Whole Foods for $0.64 and had more plants and tubers than I knew what to do with. The little flowers are great but the plants aren’t very attractive. I planted pole beans around them and let the beans climb away. It made a very nice “bean bush” with lots of yellow flowers poking through by mid summer.

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