Jerusalem Artichokes
By: Jonathan Sturm

There are two sorts of artichokes. Globe artichokes are a perennial thistle and described elsewhere. Jerusalem artichokes are a relative of the sunflower and are grown from the underground tubers, the edible portion. Artichokes are very tolerant of soil conditions, and little in the way of soil preparation is needed. They grow very well under a mulch of rotted hay or straw. Once they have started growing, they compete very successfully with weeds. Select tubers about 25-35 mm in diameter. Larger tubers should be cut up into similar sized pieces with two eyes, or buds per set. Too many buds results in a multitude of stems per plant and a large number of small tubers that are difficult to prepare.

Sow the tubers in mid winter about 100 mm below the soil allowing 450 mm between plants. As they grow to a height of 2 metres or more, they can form a useful summer windbreak. Flowering affects both tuber size and quality, so cut off the flower buds. The tubers are mature enough to use about a month following the formation of the flower buds, but are generally eaten during the winter months. The tubers will store well in sand providing they are kept cool. They are worth growing for artichoke soup alone. Make sure you remove the skins after boiling in water for thirty minutes. The addition of a little vinegar prevents them discolouring.

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