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starting a jerusalem artichoke patch

 
                          
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I purchased a Jerusalem artichoke plant from my local greenhouse. I want to start a patch but I am not sure how to go about it.
How can I convert part of my lawn to growing them? I was thinking of cutting the sod, turning it over, covering with cardboard, then piling on dirt mixed with sand and planting my plants in there. Would that work?
I know that they are quite invasive. Will they compete with the grass?

I am super excited to have these wonderful plants to grow...I just don't know where to put them!
 
Brenda Groth
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yes they will compete with the grass, but if you want to keep them in bounds mowing them is helpful. They should grow fine with that arrangement.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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I got some tubers early this spring from the market. I just turned the sod over in a sunny area, waited a week for it to die off a bit then stuffed the tubers into the ground. Of the 1o tubers, 7 came up so far. I haven't done anything other than water from time to time and keep mulching the weeds down. so far... so good
 
Joseph Fields
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I planted 10 tubers and I got 10 plants up. I plant 3 in what I call my dead zone, south east facing hard packed clay that has so far managed to kill everything I have planted. The exception being one lowly 3 year old plum tree. Up until this year that tree has yet to break 10 inches tall. I planted a choke on the south side of the plum tree hoping that it would give the plum a little shade. It seam to be doing the trick, or the magic of polyculture is working. That little plum has doubled in size this year.
 
Charles Kelm
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Last fall I bought two pounds of sunchokes from a local beyond organic farmer. I ate a few and planted the rest. This spring I planted radish seeds over the patch, knowing that radishes will come up before the jerusalem artichokes broke through. Worked perfectly. The plan worked great (I eat the radish greens more than the roots). The sunchokes are now about 18 inches tall and I anticipate a wonderful far harvest. I recommend putting out feelers for someone who grows them where you can buy them cheaply, but not until the fall when they are harvested.
 
paul wheaton
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Kinda curious about what might be "the easiest possible way" to start them.

It would even be cool to have a cookbook of techniques. Maybe a dozen ways to convert lawn to sunchokes.

I kinda wonder if folks have a wheelbarrow load of loose dirt, or sawdust, could you just drop the sunchokes on the ground, cover them with an inch or two, wet it and be done?

 
Joseph Fields
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I put zero effort in to planting mine. I pried open a hole in the dirt with a shovel, dropped them in.
 
Cris Bessette
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I never heard of these until a few weeks ago while studying perennial vegetables. I ordered a couple of pounds of them from a guy on Ebay and planted them in two areas on my property.
My aim is to eventually be able to go out and walk around and find something to eat on my property almost any time of the year. These really should help out the scarce winter period.




 
William James
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I'm thinking about combating sunchoke invasiveness with Fennel. They say that nothing likes to grow around fennel. I planted the Sunchokes this spring where the fennel was last year, and it's not going so hot. So, next year when they kick into high gear, perhaps I'll have some fennel waiting for them along the edges.

I'll let you know if Sunchokes feel like growing past a fennel border.

Right now I'm hemming them in with very tall weeds.
Great news about the radishes. Didn't think about that.

Oh, and yeah, if you can find someone who's selling them to eat, eat one, plop the other in the ground and watch it go to work. Very nice plant. Something you could grow with potatoes, maybe. Since you're disturbing the ground anyway...

Another thing, there's actually a 3 sister's guild based on Sunchoke, Chinese Artichoke, and Ground nut. Probably in Eric Toensmier's Book, as he promotes it.

-W
 
Joseph Fields
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What do jerusalem artichokes look like in wall winter? I have seen a couple of hedges and am thinking about doing one on the north side of my house.
 
William James
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Joseph Fields wrote:What do jerusalem artichokes look like in wall winter?


Sad-to-dead.

It should be here at 1:00:
http://dev.chelseagreen.com/tv/episode/1671024/

granted this is a dwarf variety.
W
 
Joseph Fields
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I guess I must have the giant size kind. Mine are 2-3 feet tall now and have no signs of flowering at all. These things sure do create a ton of biomass. Thanks for the video.
 
William James
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Joseph Fields wrote:I guess I must have the giant size kind.


I don't think size matters when it comes to sunchokes. Look at these:
http://harmonyvalleyfarm.blogspot.it/2012/03/sunday-afternoon-field-trips-resumed.html

They pretty much keep all the life-stuff in the roots at the end of season. That's their nature.

They usually flower in late August/Sept/Early october. Till then it's all jungle. Also, the more shade you have, it seems, the more biomass you have. It's creating big leaves and tall shoots because it needs the sun more. Out in a field, they are happy growing smaller and making bigger root mass.

If you wanted them green in winter, and supposing your winter is not harsh, you could try and plant them in September and see how that goes. They're pretty tough creatures. They come up in my basement in about Early February, if that gives you any guess. They might stay small and grow slowly throughout the winter.

W
 
Joseph Fields
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Thanks for the link. I could deal with a winter hedge like that first pic, then cut it all down with a pair of fiskers in the spring.
Off topic, an old friend came over to shoot some guns. I spent over and hour taking him around the Kyrameterhof (what I call my small version of the Krameterhof in KY) and showing him all the permish stuff I have going on. It was a good day.
 
Nicole Alderman
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William James wrote:I'm thinking about combating sunchoke invasiveness with Fennel. They say that nothing likes to grow around fennel. I planted the Sunchokes this spring where the fennel was last year, and it's not going so hot. So, next year when they kick into high gear, perhaps I'll have some fennel waiting for them along the edges.

I'll let you know if Sunchokes feel like growing past a fennel border.

Right now I'm hemming them in with very tall weeds.
Great news about the radishes. Didn't think about that.

Oh, and yeah, if you can find someone who's selling them to eat, eat one, plop the other in the ground and watch it go to work. Very nice plant. Something you could grow with potatoes, maybe. Since you're disturbing the ground anyway...

Another thing, there's actually a 3 sister's guild based on Sunchoke, Chinese Artichoke, and Ground nut. Probably in Eric Toensmier's Book, as he promotes it.

-W


William, did the fennel stop the sunchokes? I want to grow fennel, as we love the flavor, but I'm trying to figure out where I can put it that it won't hurt the neighboring plants. I was thinking about growing it with the sunchokes, but won't if they don't do well together. I'd love an update on your planting! Thank you!
 
Blake Wheeler
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Just realized this is an older thread, but you guys are aware you can cut the tubers up (like potatoes) before you plant them right? Chopped a pound worth into 2" sections and planted them late last fall. Despite a very cold winter for our zone (-10 on some days) all of them came up.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Blake Wheeler wrote:Just realized this is an older thread, but you guys are aware you can cut the tubers up (like potatoes) before you plant them right? Chopped a pound worth into 2" sections and planted them late last fall. Despite a very cold winter for our zone (-10 on some days) all of them came up.


That's good to know! I'd really like to increase my sunchoke production. We were gifted a bucket of sunchokes last year, and I managed to kill off about half of them. Yes, I know the things are supposed to be indestructible. In case anyone wants to know how I managed to accidentally kill them, I planted them by sticking my shovel in the ground, prying up the ground, putting the sunchoke root in the bottom, tossing in a little extra soil, and then putting the pried up soil back down. I was being lazy, and thought they'd grow up through the dirt. Nope, it was too hard packed. I planted about 20 of them that way, and only two have made it up through the ground (where I planted them correctly, they all came up). So, for those of you with the sunchokes taking over your garden, you can try mulching them in some very thick cardboard/newspaper/wool carpet/etc and making it so they can't grow up through the soil to reach the sun. A year or two of that should take care of them.
 
Adam Hoar
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If you buy them in the fall do you wait till spring to plant them or would you plant them in the fall and let them over winter?

Where are good places to get them in bulk to start a decent size patch? How large are most of your guys patches, and how much yield do you get from those patches?
 
William James
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Adam,
you can buy them in the fall and overwinter or plant in early spring. As long as they're in the ground by early-mid april they'll go.

I bought a first batch, about 4 kilos, from the supermarket. I'm still growing them about 3 years on, just dividing and moving them around.

If you have a soggy area, they might not do so well and it might be best to harvest from there first, before the rains rot them.

10 lbs / yard?

Our patch was about 3 square meters and we got 20-30 lbs, with enough to cut up and grow on the next year.
W
 
Adam Hoar
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Thanks William, I bought a few a couple of years ago and planted them but I dont think they took, this time I will put in a bed and buy a bunch so I have a better chance of them taking off.
 
Ross Raven
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Just a word of warning. Sunchokes are SUPER invasive. I love my patches. They are my emergency backup survival food because they are sooo prolific and I have to pay no attention to them....

...But...they will take over and keep expanding and you will never be able to get them out again.....so, Never put them in your garden. Only put them in Unused places where they can do their thing.
 
Marsha Richardson
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I WISH they were invasive. Here in central VA I have tried planting them in many different places and am very excited when even a small clump does well. Of course deer keep them browsed off and meadow voles make sure not to many tubors survive. We have been encouraging snakes and anything else that will eat the voles so I remain hopeful. The only way I can get them is in a fenced enclosure and planted in a hardware lined trench. I only eat a few (as a reward) when I get them and then plant the rest everywhere that looks like they may stand a chance. It is kind of a downer because we really love them.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Yield on sunroots in my garden is anywhere from 1/4# to 13 pounds per plant if spaced 18" apart in rows 30" apart. That depends a lot on which variety is being grown. They are winter hardy in my zone 4b garden. In the wild around here, they grow in full sunlight, in areas that are just drier than what cattails like.

Sunroots are the weediest vegetable that I grow, so they work best for me in perennial beds. I wouldn't call them invasive, because they pretty much stay where I put them, but they are certainly tenacious. I'm breeding them, so I have to move to new places in the field so that I can distinguish this year's seedlings from last year's weeds. I end up abandoning portions of my field where they have grown in previous years. If I kept animals, I'd run pigs in the field after harvest to dig out the sunroots.

Yield 13 pounds per plant...




 
Mike Turner
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If you are growing more than one cultivar they can also self seed around. If the self seeder pops up in an bit of unused land, I usually leave it alone, but each year I have to pull a few seedlings that show up in my garden. The self seeders have popped up over 200 feet from the original patch.
 
Blake Wheeler
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Adam Hoar wrote:If you buy them in the fall do you wait till spring to plant them or would you plant them in the fall and let them over winter?

Where are good places to get them in bulk to start a decent size patch? How large are most of your guys patches, and how much yield do you get from those patches?


You can plant them in the fall no issues. I bought a pound worth on Amazon (everyone else was out), cut them up in 2" chunks, and planted them in well forked soil then covered it in grass clippings. This spring they all came up no problem. Still waiting to see the yield. I'll probably eat a few as I have no clue if I even like them, and if I do take this harvest, chop it up, and use them to increase the plot size (it's just a 10x4 patch along my fence). The pound I had more than filled the site I put them, I had a few whole tubers in there because I simply didn't have enough room left if I cut them up.

This time of year it'll be hard to find anyone with tubers for sale, hence why I chose Amazon late last year. Oikos Tree Crops is one of the few websites I've found with a good selection of varieties. If you wait til they stock up again (no clue when) you'll have a good selection. I'll personally probably buy some smooth-skinned sunchokes from them. I have the knobby variety which I hear are a chore to prep and clean.

 
Joylynn Hardesty
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I have the knobby type, I had run across a recommendation to not peel them, so I never have. It works for me. If you have a deep crevice to clean, just break it at that point and clean it easily.
I have read that sunchokes can cause horrible flatulence. Oh, my source on the flatulence was referring to the wild varieties. Has anyone here had a bad experience? I have kept our consumption of it as ingredient in recipes, and it has not been an issue for my family.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I eat sunroots as an addition to a meal, and not as a main course, so I've never had a flatulence episode from them. Also I eat a lot of fibre, which means that things move quickly and don't stay around long enough to become gassy.
 
Ed Colmar
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I've had sunchokes in my garden for 3 years now, and they have managed to survive in my (terrible) clay "soil". Last winter I dug them all out and replanted the tubers in a "no-dig" layered bed. They are absolutely exploding in here, and should be very easy to harvest.
 
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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