A few weekends ago I started digging up my garden's Jerusalem artichoke bed. It was amazing how many each plant produced. The wheel barrow in the photo at left shows what came from just two plants.
This is the first time I've tried to grow Jerusalem artichoke. I was suprised that growing it was so easy and required such little work. I remember weeding the bed just once in the Spring, and then I just watered it regularly. Each piece of tuber I planted produced a plant around 6 feet tall. The plants are in the sunflower family (they're also called sunchokes), and in the late summer they blossomed and had small yellow sunflowers. I snipped off their blossoms so that more energy could go to the roots to help them produce the Jerusalem artichoke tubers. The plants are now mostly dead and brown, so I dug up a couple of plants to harvest the tubers.
Jerusalem artichokes are native to eastern North America and are said to have been introduced to Samuel de Champlain by Native Americans in Massachusettes. Mostly they are cooked like potatoes or other root vegetables. Another interesting thing about Jerusalem artichokes is that they contain inulin, a type of starch that is considered healthier for diabetics. This weekend I hope to finish digging up the Jerusalem artichoke bed and have some ready to sell at the fruit stand.
Click here to go to about.com 's web page about Jerusalem artichoke, where you can also find links to recipes.