Jerusalem artichoke belongs to the sunflower family and is a perennial plant. It is also called the Eternity Potato, as the edible tubers, unlike the potato, are winter-proof and can remain in the ground all year round. The outer part of the plant can reach heights of growth of up to three meters, with an attractive inflorescence of bright yellow color. In winter, only the above-ground growth dies; to the delight of every gardener, the tuber sprouts new perennials and flowers all by itself next spring.

Ideal location, planting substrate, planting

The plant comes from the American continent and is distributed there from north to south, Jerusalem artichoke mainly occurs in Mexico. It is child’s play to grow it in the garden with its tubers, it doesn’t require great gardening skills. The tubers required for planting are available either from well-stocked greengrocers or by mail order, after which they only have to be buried in the ground. The Jerusalem artichoke is expected to grow rampant, which must be taken into account when choosing a location.

To prevent these growths, Jerusalem artichokes should be placed in a planter instead of in the garden, so that the growth is always under control.

  • Prefer sunny locations, partial shade is also possible
  • Full sun exposure throughout the day is ideal for blooming
  • Put tubers 5-10 cm deep in the ground or in a planter
  • Distance between the tubers between 25-60 cm
  • Maintain row spacing of approx. 40 cm
  • Thrives and grows in almost all soils and altitudes
  • A loose and slightly sandy soil is ideal
  • In extremely heavy soils, incorporate compost or manure before planting
  • The best possible time to plant is the beginning of spring
  • Planting in frost-free soil all year round is possible with protective measures
  • Install a root barrier to prevent growth
  • Large planter for growing outside of the garden

Fertilizing and watering

Jerusalem artichoke needs a lot of water, but does not tolerate permanent waterlogging. In this case, the plant quickly begins to rot. If the soil is poor in nutrients, additional fertilization should be used; adequate fertilization also increases the yield of harvested tubers. However, the fertilization should not be excessive, but should be adapted to the condition of the soil and the plant.

  • Plenty of watering, several times on hot days
  • If the water supply is insufficient, the leaves and flowers droop and recover after watering
  • Avoid waterlogging at all costs
  • Fertilize with compost, enriched with chicken and rabbit manure, and a little algae lime
  • Avoid fertilizers that are too high in nitrogen, these lead to signs of putrefaction

Proper cutting and gentle wintering

Due to the rapid and enormous growth, the flowers and leaves should be pruned regularly, especially if the plant is in a small garden. If there is enough space, cutting will not be necessary. In winter, the above-ground growth of the plant dies completely, only the frost-proof tubers can overwinter. With the nights of frost, which first set in in autumn, the outer parts of the plant begin to die off; these should be cut off at the latest before they sprout again in spring. When the new shoots sprout again in spring, the area around the plant must be cleared of disturbing weeds, as otherwise restricted growth may occur.

  • If there is insufficient space, prune the plant
  • Dying in the winter time prevents overgrowth
  • After they die in late autumn, cut off approx. 5-10 cm above the ground
  • Keep weed free at the beginning of the growing season
  • As the months go by, the plant gets bigger and displaces the weeds all by itself
  • Although the plant is frost hardy, it can withstand extreme cold better with protective measures
  • Attach softwood sticks or fleece as winter protection
  • The deeper it was planted, the better frost is tolerated

Flowers and leaves

In addition to the tasty tubers, the Jerusalem artichoke also has beautiful flowers. From a botanical point of view, the flower of the plant is an inflorescence. This has the shape of a cup, on the outside are ray florets and on the inside tubular florets are formed. This inflorescence is hermaphroditic and has a larger diameter, the seat is in the ramifications of the leaves above. The flowering time is from late summer to late autumn. Jerusalem artichoke is a short-day plant that only begins to bloom when the days are less than a certain length. Therefore, in southern countries with longer days it does not bloom before October, while in Central Europe it begins to bloom as early as August. The perennial plant can grow several meters high, this fact should be taken into account when planting.

  • Bright yellow inflorescence, 4-8 cm in size
  • Flowers and leaves are not only an ornament, but also a privacy screen
  • Flowering time between August and November, the further south the location, the later
  • Flowers can be plowed and placed in vases for decoration
  • Plant can grow up to 3 meters high
  • Leaves are stalked and ovate, 7-10 cm wide and 10-25 cm long
  • The leaves and stems are hairy and rough

Nodule formation

The tubers of the Jerusalem artichoke quickly form a large number of daughter tubers underground. If the soil is very nutritious and there is enough moisture, it will be faster than expected. They arise at the base of the sprouts and multiply rapidly from here. The tubers are used as food, both for humans and for animals. Diabetics appreciate the well-tolerated ingredients. The Jerusalem artichoke tubers can also be processed into schnapps.

  • Tubers are pear- or apple-shaped, and sometimes also take on a spindle shape
  • Size roughly like potatoes
  • The skin of the tubers is either beige, yellow, red or pink, occasionally even in all color combinations
  • The skin of the tuber is thin and fine, in contrast to the skin of the potato
  • white tuber meat
  • Contains inulin and is therefore well tolerated by diabetics
  • Tubers can be processed into a golden yellow to brown syrup, which is used as a sweetener
  • Fiber content, use for diet dishes
  • Well protected, tubers can tolerate frost values ​​down to -30 ° C, but the above-ground shoot freezes at -5 ° C

Harvest time

The planting must be carefully cared for, monitored and harvested in good time, otherwise it will overgrow and multiply if it grows freely to the detriment of the other garden plants. Regular excavations prevent outgrowths, but it should be noted that even extremely small nodules can still develop. The tubers can be harvested all year round and can be used in various ways in the kitchen.

  • Tubers are suitable for consumption
  • The taste of the tubers is sweet and very similar to that of the artichokes
  • The ideal harvest time is autumn, when the tubers are very large and fully ripe
  • Harvest is possible all year round, suspend in dry summer
  • In the summer the tubers lack moisture, they are then wrinkled and have a slightly chewy taste
  • Always leave 1-2 small tubers in the soil so that further growth is possible
  • Increase in yield by removing the flowers

move

The Jerusalem artichoke has a great need for nutrients, which is why its soil is depleted after a few years. If the plant remains in the same location, it will no longer be as big as it used to be and the harvest and the size of the tubers will be much smaller. At this point, the Jerusalem artichoke should move to another location in the garden so that this location can regenerate. In order to support regeneration, only plants with an extremely low nutrient requirement should be used afterwards; grasses, for example, are ideal. The same problem arises in the planter, where the entire soil has to be removed and replaced with new, nutrient-rich soil.

Unwanted diseases and voracious pests

Jerusalem artichoke is not only undemanding, it is also largely resistant to most diseases and pests. In persistent damp weather, however, annoying powdery mildew can develop. As a rule, however, it is not necessary to combat this plague; with the onset of winter, the powdery mildew disappears on its own.

The extremely tasty root tubers are a treat for moles and voles. These rodents cause considerable damage in many places, and sometimes the harvest can even be completely lost. Deer and wild boars also like the tasty tubers and the young leaves and stems of the Jerusalem artichoke.

  • In wet weather susceptible to powdery mildew, this disappears again with the onset of winter
  • The disease and pest infestation increases with large-scale cultivation
  • Cover with a wide-meshed fleece to protect against deer and wild boars
  • Root barriers not only prevent overgrowth, but also keep the moles out
  • Set up mouse traps against voles

Recommended varieties

  • Good yello
  • Bianca
  • Giant
  • Topstar
  • Volkenröder Spindel
  • Light varieties with a smooth skin are to be preferred

Conclusion
The Jerusalem artichoke is an ideal plant for gardeners who do not have that much time for
gardening. The undemanding plant is very easy to care for and grows splendidly in all directions. It is both a useful plant and an ornament for every garden thanks to its beautiful, yellow flowers. Due to the great growth, you can plant them as a privacy screen to the neighboring property, but you should then work a root barrier in the ground. The tubers are edible and have a slightly sweet, artichoke taste. Diabetics in particular appreciate this healthy sweetness, and the tubers are also known as slimming products. In terms of handling, the plant is very similar to that of the potato; a puree made from Jerusalem artichoke tubers is particularly tasty.

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