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Found some sunchokes at the grocery store  RSS feed

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I found some Sunchokes aka Jerusalem Artichokes at the grocery store the other day.  They're organic so I assume no sprout retarding chemicals, etc.  I should be able to plant these tubers in the ground and grow my own Sunchokes from them, right?  I'm in central texas... it's HOT during the summer but not as arid as some people think.  Any special cultivation practices you folks use when growing Sunchokes?  Thanks!
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Yup, organic ones will grow just fine.  Just plant them, really any time you can work the soil.  They don't hold well in storage, tend to mold and rot, so plant them pretty fast.  If it's going to get cold again, just throw some mulch over them after planting.  Even if the tops get nipped by frost (which they don't seem to anyway), they grow right back.

Nothing special to growing them, they're actually really easy overall.  Now, personally, I've had trouble the last couple of years with voles/mice eating the tubers right in the ground.  I don't have a solution to that problem, but voles are the bane of my gardening existence anyway.  Been overrun with them for close to 20 years now, ever since they developed the vacant land around me, I fight them but they usually win more battles than I do.

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I started my patch with chokes from the store, don't even think they were labeled organic. No special techniques, really. They like full sun, in my sandy soil they benefit from occasional watering. Dig them only when you want to eat them or transplant them. The can be persistent buggers, so only put them down where you want to keep them.
 
pollinator
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my only suggestion would be to mulch them really well to keep in moisture, they grow qutie easily on their own..also keep them away from anything you don't want to have to dig up..as they will spread..i have also read they grow well with groundnut vines which i have yet to try..I'm moving my sunchokes this year..the books say best time to move them is in July when they are pretty well attached to the root systems..so wish me luck, i want them in a different area and will probably be doing a lot of digging strays..

i loved the way mine grew last year, just not where they were..they made beautiful mazes of my garden..over my head..very private and great windbreaks !!

put  them in the ground right away, they DO NOT keep long
 
                              
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alrighty, thanks all.  just put them in the ground.  i was reading some cultural info about them and it said they do best in the top 2/3rds of the country.  Well I'm in Austin, Tx.  We'll see how they do here.
 
pollinator
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They haven't done super well for me - I'm a little south of you.  But they will grow and produce tubers.  They just don't like it super hot, so you might try putting them where they are a little protected from the worst of the sun, and where they will get plenty of water.  They have done better than Irish potatoes for me.

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Just keep in mind that where you put them... you will always have them! I have the dang things in a front garden bed and they get 8' tall every year and block the south windows to the house... and I can't grow anything else in that bed because they crowd it out. But then, they are eatable. I've dug and double-dug, and sieved and still miss just enough tubers that they come back.
 
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how do they tolerate heavier soils? I've got to much clay to easily grow potatoes so I'm looking for a substitute, and crowds out the weeds sounds perfect for me for a starch producing patch
 
                              
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brice Moss wrote:
how do they tolerate heavier soils? I've got to much clay to easily grow potatoes so I'm looking for a substitute, and crowds out the weeds sounds perfect for me for a starch producing patch


the ones i bought from the store had some serious clay still stuck to it.. so maybe so.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Be aware not everyone can easily digest the tubers, they make some people have painful gas, etc. 
 
                                    
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The reason not everyone can digest them is that the starch in them, inulin, is indigestible. It is being researched for Diabetics because it would be a starch that does not convert to a sugar in the human system. The studies are inconclusive (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7667959), but as my fiance is diabetic, I am very interested in it.
 
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Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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Denninmi wrote:
Yup, organic ones will grow just fine.  Just plant them, really any time you can work the soil.  They don't hold well in storage, tend to mold and rot, so plant them pretty fast.


maybe if they are from the store.  i've had a bunch in the crisper since i dug them out in the fall and they are fine.  i don't like them much except as a substitute for water chestnuts.
 
                                    
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Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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Brenda Groth wrote:
i have also read they grow well with groundnut vines which i have yet to try..


i am doing that this year!  oikos has groudnuts.
 
Brenda Groth
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i have sent sunchoke roots to some people....and this got me thinking maybe we should establish and exchange thread somewhere on the forum..i would LOVE to get a couple of ground nut starts, as well as maybe some nuts from some nut trees to start baby nut trees, like black walnut, carpathian walnut, butternut, etc..and nuts and roots are easily sent in the $4.95 flat rate boxes..
 
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I just dug up well over 50 lbs. of sunchokes from the garden this past weekend when we had our thaw, (there's at least that many more still in the ground). I'm in Ohio with thick clay soil and they do really well here, though the clay soil makes them a pain to get clean. My mother planted a couple of tubers over 30 years ago and never needed to plant them again. Truly a permaculture plant.
 
gardener
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I'm trying to decide where to plant these right now. I was thinking about putting them where we let the wild sunflowers self seed in our garden each year. However there are a lot of horror stories about how aggressively they grow. Will they shade out rose bushes or very small (under five feet) fruit trees? Can they be pulled back enough to let other plants be planted on their margins or do they really need their own dedicated area separate from the rest of the plants?
 
pollinator
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I don't have a problem with mine spreading aggressively, but they definitely get big and will shade out smaller plants.  Mine get 8-10 feet tall.
 
garden master
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Sunroots can be kept in check. However, it requires consistent vijilence. They can grow to 10 to 12 feet in a growing season, so will shade out other things planted nearby. At my place, they don't travel across the garden, rather they stay approximately where they are planted. But I don't expect to grow anything else in a location after I have put sunroots in that spot.

 
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I only wish they grew like everyone talks about them growing.  They are related to sunflowers, they may grow tall, like sunflowers, and might shade things out.  But, as far as the "invasive" "uncontrollable" accusations - maybe if you[ve got really good soil where everything grows like mad.  They failed pretty badly in my New Jersey Pine Barrens sand.

Rather than worry about the possibility of a useful, beneficial plant becoming overly successful, I plan on trying whatever I feel looks useful and promising.  If it turns out to be crazy aggressive wild and rampant, then I may have to beat it down, but I will not hold off planting anything just because someone else didn't like the way it behaved.  Like Mark Shepard says, why try to kill off something that wants to live and put on life support something that wants to die?
 
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Some combination of heat, drought, and gophers keeps them from overwintering where I am; they grow well but don't come back the next year.  In buckets, watered regularly, they produce like gangbusters.  In my poor ground, watered regularly, they produce less well, but even if I don't dig them, they don't come back in spring.  In my poor ground at locations beyond the reach of my garden hose, they die (or at least, suffer massive defoliation) in late August, and (though they do have some tubers at that point) they don't come back in spring. 

I keep trying because I figure if I get a good year or two with unseasonable summer rains, they might get established better.  And there are way fewer gophers in places I don't water.  My ultimate goal is to have some "no attention needed" well-established perennial patches as a survival food stock and permanent propagule bank.  In a time of need I could then transplant and/or hand water them for better production, and take "proactive measures" to protect them from the gophers as well.
 
Casie Becker
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I'm actually pleased to hear they do well in buckets. There's a particular garden bed I want to place them in, but until we confirm my family will actually eat an abundant quantity of tubers I either have to find another location, or grow in a container.

For your circumstance, have you tried starting the plants from seed to get several varieties to try at a time? Maybe a seedling would have the correct combination of genetics to thrive in your conditions. Right now I'm looking at a tiny packet of seeds and three tubers.
 
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For me they grow best in compost. That is,I pile compostable up inside a ring of snow fencing,and toss sunchokes and other plants into the mix.
Huge haul of chokes and radishes, good breakdown of compost, lots of stalks for the bunnies.
Buckets have been less successful for me.
I also have had them in my little girls vegetable bed. They could have taken over,but we broke off the stalks and fed them to the bunnies,at least once a week. Not really a problem, the veg grew fine.
Only problem I did have was tons of tiny black bugs on many of the patches.
My wife took to washing the stalks she brought instead for the bunnies.
I didn't. They were plant pests, I saw nothing to fear from them for us or our animals.
They did a fair amount of damage to the chokes, so I am curious what they were.
This year I will throw the buggy stalks to the chickens as a tasty treat.
 
Dan Boone
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Casie Becker wrote:I'm actually pleased to hear they do well in buckets.


I should not overstate.  In smaller containers they thrive if watered but their yield can be limited by the lack of root space.  I grew one plant in a three-gallon clay pot this year that (a) broke the pot from the root/tuber pressure and (b) yielded a bunch of small knobby tubers with flat surfaces from being crowded against each other and against the pot walls.  Plant got to be seven feet tall and flowered profusely.  I had four meals from the tubers (basically each meal was as many tubers as I could put on a dinner plate to pop in my microwave) but they were more work than usual to clean because they were small with many dirty crevices.

Casie Becker wrote:For your circumstance, have you tried starting the plants from seed to get several varieties to try at a time? Maybe a seedling would have the correct combination of genetics to thrive in your conditions. Right now I'm looking at a tiny packet of seeds and three tubers.


I'm jealous!  I do not actually have any seeds, or a source for them.  I know our Joseph may have sometimes made a few available but I didn't get my act together to get some from him.  I am working with a variety of tubers sourced in different grocery stores, and there's a patch of wild natives about a mile from my house that I want to bring to my garden for the genetics, but I keep flailing that project due to other life complications.  They actually do come back year after year so I know it's possible in this climate!  But their tubers are very small.  I figure if I can get them growing in my garden I might be able to get some hybridization and some true seed of my own going, but that's a long-term ambition of course.
 
Casie Becker
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Wait till this fall. I'm sure if Joseph doesn't have them available again, someone here will have some from their plants. There's even a fair chance that would be me.

I've got a set of self watering planters that I hardly ever use and I've pulled them out for the sun roots and dahlia's. I'll watch for over crowding and divide them if necessary. I think I know where they should go, but I have to do proof of concept for other family members. They have to be pretty enough to go outside of a bedroom window and tasty enough to become a staple. It's possible I'll find them for sale (never have before) early enough to transplant them directly into the garden this growing season. Otherwise it's full growing season as a test plant, and I don't want to take a chance that we'll be wasting valuable garden space on them if they fail.

edit: If they pass on taste but fail on looks then we can give them their own bed in the back yard.
 
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards
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