Anyone grown Jerusalem Artichokes? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Has anyone had experience growing Jerusalem Artichokes? Any problems with them, such as spreading into areas you don't want them to be, etc? Are they as good as the catalogs say? We are in a dry area of Colorado, but have the capabilities of watering, so I would like to try them this year. Would they stand up to cold, dry winters? Do they need to be mulched? If you don't dig up the entire crop for use/storage during the winter, would they come back the next year? How do you know when they are ready to harvest? Thanks for any info, this is a great site to gain from other's knowledge and experience! Jan

-- Janice Bullock (, March 18, 2000


I've grown Jerusalem Artichokes the past few years, or should I say they've grown themselves. I live in Southesastern Indiana and they do grow wild around here. If they start to wilt, I give them extra water. You can dig them any time after the first hard freeze. What you don't dig will come back the next year or you can plant what you don't eat. I usually mulch them and forget about them unless they wilt(too busy with other things.) I haven't had any problem with them running wild. They taste like sunflower seed and are good for dips. You can use them like potatoes.

-- Cindy (, March 18, 2000.

We have grown them for many years at a couple of different places in Wisconsin. They will spread slowly, and are difficult to get rid of once established, which isn't a problem for a small patch but can be a problem if you put in a field of them, as any left in the field will grow a new plant next season. You dig them after the frost in the fall, and can use them raw in salads or with dips, etc., or boil them like new potatoes, or use them sliced like water chestnuts in stir fry. They don't seem as good if eaten when the plants are growing, just in the fall and early spring. We have never watered ours, even in the drought of 1988, but then we don't water much in our garden except when planting. I would probably mulch them in a dry area, and we always seemed to miss enough of them every fall when harvesting to insure a crop the next year.

-- Jim (, March 18, 2000.

Hi Jan. I got my start through Seed Savers Exchange years ago and they were so knobby, peeling them was a major undertaking. I felt as though I were a carver rather than a cook. If possible look for varieties that claim to be smoother. I would have left the peel on but they didn't taste as fresh. Ours didn't spread rapidly but then that was when we were moving fairly regularly and I may have left the problem to some one else.

-- Marilyn (, March 18, 2000.

Can someone tell me what these plants look like when they first come up? We planted 5 pounds from Johnny's in the Fall. I wasn't too impressed with them because they seemed slightly moldy when we got them. I haven't seen them coming up yet (we are in Arkansas) but don't really know what I am looking for.

Many thanks - Kim

-- kim (, March 18, 2000.

If you can grow sunflowers you can grow Jer. Art. They are indeed hard to peel. We don't seem to get many large size roots. These days we mostly use as feed for goats. They do spread some & come back year after year.

-- Okie-Dokie (, March 19, 2000.

Kim- Jeruselam artichokes look sort of like scrawny sunflowers, once they are starting to grow, and the flowers are sort of sunflower-like too. They are related to sunflowers, too, if I recall correctly.

-- Jim (, March 20, 2000.

I tried overwintering some Jerusalem artichokes about ten years ago, basically hoping they'd spread out and take over. Well, next spring, they didn't sprout, dug em up to find out why. Termites were in them all. Too costly to buy new stock each year, so I gave up.

-- phil (, March 20, 2000.

Jerusalem artichokes grow like weeds (here in SE Texas at least) and can be left in the ground to overwinter just about anywhere, I would guess. I harvested mine when the tops died down. One thing I would like to mention that I haven't seen mentioned before--those things make most people bloat up like a dirigible with gas. It's the inulin, I believe. It was well documented on the Lewis and Clark expedtion that the natives shared these with the expedition and they nearly asphyxiated themselves. Hoo--wee. Gross but true.

-- hannah (, March 24, 2000.

I grow Jerusalem artichokes in a 55-gallon drum cut in half. That way they don't spread from the roots. I have never worried about eating them after the frost. I just dig up a few when I feel like it, which frankly isn't all that often. They can be eaten raw or cooked (steamed or lightly boiled). I don't find them all that hard to peel -- just use a regular potato parer. I never had any problem with blowing up or gas or flatulence. Perhaps this is because I eat moderately. Or perhaps the persons who have a problem with gas combine them with something -- an unfortunate undigestible mixture -- that causes gas? After the frost I pull up all the stalks and harvest the biggest roots and leave the tiny ones and bits of ones to come back the next year. Of course, in the barrel with no direct ground contact, they are much more apt to dry out, so I do water them in the really hot weather when the soil dries out.

-- Elizabeth Petofi (, March 24, 2000.

I just pulled some yesterday as a matter of fact. They ARE knobby and hard to peel but I use a paring knife and don't worry about losing some because the ducks, geese and chickens eat whatever I throw out. I have some next to a big compost pile ( contained in a 5 foot ring of fencing) and they grow nice and big. They've only been there two years so I don't know if they will become a problem or not. They are easy to grow and the expense is, I think, because you should only have to buy them once. Poor Phil- it would be terrible having termites eat your garden! I cook mine in milk and water and they do taste a little like earthy sunflower seeds. I have tried them raw in salads but gas was a problem. I wasn't going to mention that but as long as someone already did....from NW WI

-- Peg (, March 25, 2000.

The only time we grew Jerusalem artichokes the goats kept eating them and finally killed them. They liked them even more than the comfrey, which they could just reach part of through their fence and kept pretty well trimmed. If someone has a patch that has spread out of bounds I would give the goats or sheep (or chickens) free access to it for a while, and I don't think the plants would last long.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, April 13, 2000.


JA's really don't need to be peeled, just scrub them real good with a vegetble brush. If you have to peel them them in boiling water for about 5 minutes and the skins will pretty much slip right off. Use in any recipe calling for potatos or Jicama. Can be pickled and made into relishes. They turn dark like a potato or apple but much quicker so have a little lemon in water or vinegar in water to prevent this.

One of the reasons JA's are not popular is because they do not store well at all. The requirements for storing out of the ground is near freezing. If you are in an area where the ground does not freeze, keep them in ground and dig as needed, however, if your ground does freeze and that is not possible, dig and store in damp sand in a container.

Soil requirements - same for growing aspargas, horseradish, rhubarb-high in organic matter and composted manure

Prepare soil to 18 inches deep, plant JA's 4-6 inches deep and about 18 inches apart in rows 3 feet wide. when the Sunflower like stem/foliage get about 2-3 feet tall, mound more compost around them and again when they are at 5-6 feet tall. JA's will get to be about 8-10 feet tall, not all JA's have small sunflower.

Harvest after the frost and all the leaves and stem has died back. Harvest all winter long.

In the right environment, JA's will take over. I wish I had an environment like that! There is one little warning I have for not peel JA's and throw peelings into your compost pile!!! they will grow!

-- Ima Gardener (, April 17, 2000.

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