Braving the artichokes

The Jerusalem artichokes have needed digging up for some time now. As it’s been a warm winter and it doesn’t look there will be a freeze any time soon, it seemed likely that if they weren’t harvested in the near future, it wouldn’t be right to harvest them at all before autumn. When goodness knows what kind of forest they could have grown into!

Besides, the corner of the garden they’ve been growing in was frankly a mess. Couch grass, dandelions, crocosmia, bluebells and blackberries all competing for water and nutrients with the artichokes.

But it wasn’t sorting this out so much as what my vegetables might do to my innards that was putting me off. In fact, I deliberated for a long time about whether I should continue growing this particular crop, even though I do like the taste and they are by no means hard to cultivate. 

Unless you count their invasive nature, which doesn’t seem to hold true in this garden of mine. 

Maybe it’s because of the heavy soil, maybe it’s because of competition from the aforementioned weeds and other vegetation. I think it might also be because of the roots of nextdoor’s silver birch.

In any case, whilst doing the clear-out, I cut some of the tree roots out. And I came across some other rather large roots which probably come from a bush I dug out years ago. Obviously not as thorough a job as it could have been.

All in all, though, I now have a few Jerusalem artichokes to grace the table. They were quite hard to find, considering how much they resemble the builders’ rubble which was also down there. Mmm, maybe there are more tubers than I thought πŸ˜‰.


About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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21 Responses to Braving the artichokes

  1. Lovely update thank you for sharing have a blessed day Helen

  2. Enjoy the artichokes, mmm, I love them!

  3. gaiainaction says:

    Jerusalem artichokes did not grow well in my clay-like soil, they also took some strange shapes and I did not find many of them at all. But, like you, I am also wondering if I should continue to grow them. I’m glad you did get some though after obviously tending to them over the season.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve seen from other people’s blogs how the plants grow, which is why I don’t think I have been that successful. However, the up-side is that if this situation continues, they won’t get out of control.

      Anyway, thank you, Agnes – to be honest, I didn’t really tend to them apart from giving them a feed with manure at the start of the season.

      I must be less stingy with water. My soil I can only amend gradually but water is a different matter πŸ˜‰

  4. Helen, I ordered Jerusalem Artichokes… don’t tell me they expect water! I hope they like my sandy soil. I like your posts.

    • Helen says:

      Thank you for the compliment on my posts πŸ™‚

      As for Jerusalem artichokes needing water, it’s a supposition at the moment, though having just done a quick search it seems they might benefit from it. On the other hand, they will love your light soil I think!

      • Root crops hated my clay in Texas. I was from the PNW where root crops were staplesand I missed them… but I grew tomatoes chiles melons like crazy. Now back to root vegetables… and I miss the tropicals. I like to read your posts and comments. I have gardened over tree roots, it took a lot of compost to feed everybody.

        • Helen says:

          At least soil suits some things, if not all πŸ™‚

          I’m just pondering what to do with the area round my apple tree to boost its strength….

          • Helen, good reminder for me since I am planting a dwarf apple tree. I am surrounding mine with radishes, carrots, and turnips. I will add peas for nitrogen. I eat some of the greens but put most back in the soil to enrich it with humus. Borage is a good one, to slash and use as mulch around fruit trees. I don’t eat it though and prefer something I can eat. What are you considering?

          • Helen says:

            First of all, I need to get rid of stuff such as daffodils and a rose bush. I don’t know where the daffodils are, so I think I had better wait till they surface before removing them, rather than unnecessarily disturbing the tree roots.

            I like the idea of borage as I do eat the flowers and it is a pretty flower. At the moment, there are also strawberry plants round the tree but I can’t easily keep the birds off the fruit, so I don’t get to eat them myself and they are adding nothing back to the soil. So, overall, there’s a bit of work to be done beyond mulching where I can!

          • I put my strawberries around the blueberries, which will nicely support mesh to keep the birds off my strawberries. I ordered yellow alpine strawberry seeds too. Birds don’t bother yellow fruit as much. I’ll see which do best here. I had a yellow plum in Texas that the birds never bothered. It’s always our brainpower against their hunger.

          • Helen says:

            Yellow is a sign of poison in the wild, is it not?

            I’ve got some strawberries under the blueberries, so they are netted. Unfortunately, they aren’t growing too well in my soil – I’ve got a lot of work to do in making the ground more productive.

          • Helen
            blueberries like acidic soil but Jerusalem Artichokes like alkaline soil. Mt blueberries are in a raised acidic bed, but the JA are going in my regular soil. They arrived a bit wet and moldy so I soaked them in alcohol for a bit. Drying them out, I hope it worked! By alcohol, I mean a cup of wine!

          • Helen says:

            Why did you soak the JA in Jerusalem artichokes?

            Funnily enough, the blueberries seem fine in what is not acidic soil here. If it were acidic, I could understand why the strawberries aren’t growing too well, so that is why I think it is more the overall condition of the soil that needs improving…. Maybe the soil isn’t alkaline enough for the JA but brassicas (big ones, not roots like radishes) like the soil, which altogether makes me puzzled!

          • Helen
            It is puzzling. Mine is pretty straightforward low nutrient sandy and alkaline. The raised beds will be more neutral and richer, although I skewed the blueberries a hair toward acid and the herbs a hair toward sandy and we’ll drained. Apple neutral and rich. Concrete blocks are very alkaline so I have to offset that until they leach out. Could it be a sun/shade issue?

          • Helen says:

            Yes, I think the reduced light due to neighbouring trees could be a factor. In winter, that part of the garden gets little (no?) sunlight. And the situation has probably got worse since I moved in 6 years ago, as the trees have got bigger. The soil is definitely something I can do something about, though πŸ™‚

          • Helen
            I soaked them in a mild white wine to kill the mold.

          • Helen says:

            Okay, thanks, Rebecca!

          • Helen says:

            My JAs had already started to develop mould since taking them out the ground on Monday :-s

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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