Jerusalem artichokes are root vegetables that belong to the aster family and this plant has an appearance that looks like that of the sunflower.
This root vegetable originates from North America and there are over 200 cultivars of this plant found all over the world and the tuberous part of the root resembles potatoes.
Jerusalem artichoke became an important food source in the European countries where it was introduced to in the 17th century and they are highly cultivated in temperate regions of the world.
The Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, is not in any way related to the popular artichoke plant and it is neither native to Jerusalem; the misconception of the name originated from its misspelled Italian name “Girasole articiocco.” This plant is quite interesting in its nature, apart from its appearance that looks like that of the popular sunflower plant, it produces tubers that look like potatoes and they have almost similar propagative nature.
The Jerusalem artichoke in some part of the world are grown as horticultural/ornamental plants and they are used for the beautification of homes and space due to the development of yellow-flower heads by the plant.
This plant produces an erect, hairy stem that has the ability to reach a height between 5 and 15 feet and the leaves of this plant are arranged both in an alternate and opposite manner on the stem and the leaves can be found from the base through the top region of the stem respectively.
The Jerusalem artichoke plant develops elongated, ovate leaves with smooth edges and pointed tips and the tubers produced by this plant can be eaten raw or cooked; they can be steamed, baked, or fried as needed.
The Jerusalem artichoke has a sweet, nutty taste and it is a very good source of vitamins A, C, and E; minerals such as iron, copper, and potassium; as well as dietary fibers.
This plant has been an important part of the human world since its introduction and there has been an increase in its cultivation since it possesses certain characteristics that make it much relevant and important.
In this article, we will take you through the step-by-step guide to follow in growing Jerusalem artichokes so you should read further to learn more about them. If you want to learn how to grow your own Jerusalem artichoke then you should stick to this article. Do have a great time learning!
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When is the right time to grow Jerusalem artichokes?
Jerusalem artichokes are tuberous plants that can survive more than two years in the soil i.e. they are perennial in nature and this plant is known to be very hardy having the ability to survive different environmental conditions.
As said, this plant is quite hardy and it can survive under the frost condition for a short period of time; however, this can affect the rate of germination of the plant as well as the time it takes it to reach maturity.
Jerusalem artichokes are best grown in early spring, just after the last spring frost has passed. The plant will survive if grown before the last spring frost as it can survive frost but it will not mature as early as the one planted just before the frost has passed.
This plant can also be planted at any time of the year because of its hardiness; however, since planting late will extend the growing period towards the winter season which can be hazardous to transplant – therefore planting in spring is the best bet for your plant.
How to grow Jerusalem artichokes
The Jerusalem artichoke is also known as the “sunchoke” as a result of its appearance that looks like that of the sunflower and this plant is regarded as one of the easiest plants to grow.
This plant is best propagated from tubers rather than its seeds. This plant can grow to a height of 6 feet at maturity and it develops leaves that can hinder the growth of other smaller plants around it and it is considered to be an invasive plant as it can take over a land space if its growth is not well controlled.
In this section of the article, we will take you through the steps to follow when you want to grow your Jerusalem artichoke plants at home. Below are the steps involved in growing Jerusalem artichokes:
Purchase or source for Jerusalem artichoke tubers:
If you are the type that consumes artichoke plants a lot, you can get a healthy artichoke tuber from the grocery store where you purchase your plant. You can also order for a growing artichoke plant from a nursery that deals in this plant or any other reputable garden store around your area. Choose tuber that is not too matured and a small tuber with two to three buds will work well.
Select a growing site:
Choose a site that receives full sunlight; this plant thrives best in the temperate regions. The soil should be well-draining and should have a neutral pH (7.0) or a bit higher i.e. slightly alkaline. Make sure that the planting area receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day as this will aid the even development and growth of the plant.
Prepare the soil:
Break up the soil around the planting area and ensure that it is well tilled. This will help improve the structure of the plant and also keep the soil as aerated as possible. Add an all-purpose fertilizer or compost material to the soil to improve the fertility of the soil as this will definitely support the all-round growth of the plant. If possible, test the water-draining capacity of the soil and make sure that the soil is well loosed before planting is carried out. Make sure that the site is free from weed and other plants should not be too close to the plant.
Plant the tubers:
The selected tubers should be planted at a depth of 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface and if planting more than one plant at once; leave a spacing of 2 to 5 feet between the plants. This will allow for an efficient spread of the plant and it will give the plant enough space to grow. Note that this plant can take over space in no time if not well monitored so you can sow the tuber in a container before planting in the soil so as to prevent unnecessary spread.
Water the plants:
Once the tuber has been planted, you should water the growing site well and ensure that the soil becomes moist, does not supply too much water. This plant should not be watered too much for proper growth unless the soil is very dry. Once the plant begins to germinate, too much water is not needed for the plant growth and you should only supply water to the plant when it is necessary and important.
Care for the plant properly:
Once the plant begins to grow large and reaches a height between 5 to 10 feet in height, make sure that the plant is either harvested or thinned so as to prevent the spread of the seeds developed by the flower at unwanted places. Make sure that the plant is well maintained and you can also stalk the plant well to ensure its stability. You can also make a heap of soil around the plant base once growth has commenced to provide stability to the plant; cover the plant with about 2 – 3 inches of compost or soil.
Growing this tasty plant around your home will be of great value to you and your household in so many ways; apart from serving as a source of food while being grown, it will be a decorative piece to the environment adding color to space. You should learn how to grow this plant at your home and enjoy its outcome in the diet. Have a great gardening experience!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article !