W shares pictures and some data on his Jerusalem artichoke garden in Pennsylvania:
“Just wanted to share my 60’ row of sunchokes.
This is an old riding ring we built and it is modified bank run material topped with just sand. Over time weeds and grasses grew, We did a chicken tractor for 2 years.
About 2 years ago I started the 2 rows with horse manure and hay and then started adding daikon radish and this year potatoes , the sunchokes and a late planting of sunflowers which are not eve in the manure bed, they are just in the wood chips.
I’m in the process of trying some more daikon and winter squash where I took the taters out.
I have another pile of manure to move, hope I can get 2 more rows built.”
I’ve always been fond of Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes, even though I don’t find them particularly digestible. They have very good uses as a survival crop to feed animals, even if we don’t eat them. The plants also make a good amount of biomass for the compost pile, and grow and produce under poor conditions. I once grew them in the rocky subsoil of a construction site in part shade and still got a yield.
We didn’t find them to do well in Florida, but here in Alabama I have some nice-looking plants in one of the Grocery Row Gardens. If they do well, I should make a bed like W made. It’s lovely and when they burst into bloom in fall the effect is magical. Gorgeous flowers and a useful crop.
I have struggled to grow sunchokes in New England. Something is eating the young tubers, sometimes leaving an intact stem and leaves just sitting in the hole with no roots!
Online research suggests that the Bad Guys are voles.
I found one sunchoke tuber they missed and transplanted it inside the garden fence (but not in the carefully prepared raised beds), and it’s now six feet high.
Wow. We didn’t have that problem in TN, but we did have a gopher that would eat some flowers now and again.
The deer keep coming along and nipping off the tops of mine! I’ve planted them along a fenceline so perhaps if I let the weeds grow tall enough they’ll hide the sunchokes coming up next spring. The deer are quite lazy and won’t eat things that are “hidden” by unappetizing plants. We keep intending to plant them a nice food plot easily accessible to the woods and far away from the gardens and orchard, but didn’t quite get to it this year!
Extra points if you have a good shot with a rifle towards that feed plot!
We have had crazy Jerusalem artichoke taking over our blackberry patch. We have a 6′ fence and no issues with deer or insect eating them. Our chickens would nibble on the fresh shoots, but still they are quite hardy. We didn’t like eating the thin tubers, but we’re delighted to see purple finch and gold finch eating the seeds after the blossoms were done last fall.
My dad grew Jerusalem Artichokes growing up in Hungary, and when he found it as produce at the grocery store in NJ, he planted a bunch in our garden. Here in WI where I now live, the deer eat the tops of mine if they aren’t behind a fence in the garden, and voles/gophers get the tubers I’m their “gated community”, aka my veggie garden.
Jerusalem artichokes are very healthy for you, but caution must be taken not to eat that much raw until you get used to them. We always dug them up and snacked on them raw, but they are also wonderful in stews and stir fries.