My experience with them is that all you need is a few tubers and
in no time you will have so many Jerusalem artichokes you won't
know what to do with them all. Leave a few in the ground over winter
and you will have concerns with them taking over your property.
Are you trying to grow them commercially or something?
Seeds aren't all that hard to come by, but like most plants, you tend to get inferior results from new breeding until you do some selection. All of my JAs are seed-grown, so I have a patch with probably hundreds of different varieties in it. Some are the equal of the larger, named varieties. More are small or extra-knobby. If you grow from seed, you will get plants that set seed more easily. If you do this for several generations and eliminate the non-flowering and non-seeding varieties, most of the sterility disappears.
Oikos Tree Crops and Kansas Native Plants are two places that sell seed.
Great comment . The "Jerusalem Artichoke" is not from Jerusalem nor is it an artichoke. It is native to American and was actually a staple of the Native American diet long before Europeans invaded. The story is that one of the first Europeans to try the food thought it tasted like an artichoke. "Jerusalem" is just a mistaken label based on another word. Girasole is from Italian for "towards the sun". The Jerusalem Artichoke is in the sunflower family.
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Mark, If you are in the US, I could probably hook you up with some starts. I began with one little tuber and they have grown huge over the last year. Not sure what variety I have, but the tubers are like fingerling potatoes, very smooth and great tasting!
I bought two wild plants from a "hippy" at a farmers market.
After tossing them in a container and ignoring them for two years , my wife dug some up and cooked them.
So damn good!
So I just spread them all over the yard, but the wife is worried about invasiveness.Says it will out compete anything. The only plant I haven't been able to keep up with is the milkweed(damn them!), are they worse than that?
It is very hard to totally eliminate them once planted and they spread in about a two foot radius each year. The stolons are fragile, penetrate to irregular depths, and even very small pieces left in the soil will result in new plants.
That said, containing hungry poultry in the area for a couple of months will put an end to them. Pigs would probably do the same.
An another note, I forgot to mention before that sterility is not the main reason why seeds are uncommon. Some varieties don't produce viable pollen. Some varieties only flower under very specific circumstances. But, many varieties do flower and produce viable pollen. The problem is that they are strongly self-incompatible, so you need multiple varieties that flower at the same time in order to get seed reliably. Flowering appears to be timed, at least in part, by rate of growth and rate of growth can differ significantly between varieties.
If you are anywhere near a market that sells them retail, just go buy some and plant. If you don't mind waiting you could have a decent-sized production in 3 years with a 10 dollar investment.
I'm still eating the kilo of tubers I bought 2 years ago. And so is another member of the family on her land. I have a patch that's about 2 meters in diameter. I'm planning on starting a new patch on another piece of land this year from those same tubers.
Plus I'm buying 10 kilos of seed chokes from a wholesale seed company for another patch.
Sunchokes are super-easy to grow and are expensive on the retail market. Here they sell for 5 dollars/kilo ($2.30 a pound).
growing from tubers means you get plants that produce the same type of tubers, much like growing apples from seed rarely produces a palatable apple, growing sunchokes from seeds is unlikely to produce the lage vigorous tasty tubers we want.
I might have stumbled upon a technique to propagate them in a nice way. Yesteryear I got a few tubers, I put them in a 40cm diameter pot and left it alone until today. The plants never got very high(about 1m). Today I turned the pot over and to my surprise I found a huge amount of marble-size tubers that had already sprouted but would probably never reach the surface.
Chucked them in my old square meter garden because I don't want them to take over my small garden:
I wonder why all the tubes grow many and little and so deep. Perhaps because the sun was shining on the side of the pot and the plants thought they where close to the surface over there?