Artichoke, Jerusalem

Why Grow It?

These knobbly roots are not to everyone’s liking and they have an unfortunate association with flatulence (they are often knicknamed, rather unimaginatively, fartichokes). On the other hand they are a sinch to grow, suffer no diseases, are exceptionally prolific, will grow pretty much in any soil, and to my mind make for a great winter soup. The tall plants (up to 3m) are grown for their tubers which grow underground.
 

Sowing

Sow them exactly as you would spuds – get yourself some artichoke tubers (they might be trickier to come across than spuds – ask a fellow GIYer if they can give you a few tubers), make a hole about 15cm deep and drop a tuber in to it every 30cm in a row. Then backfill with soil. You will only need about 5 plants. Don’t worry about including them in any rotation – they can be grown wherever you have the space, but since they grow exceptionally tall, chose your site carefully – they will cast a shadow on their neighbours in the veggie patch.
 

Growing

Earth up the plants several times in the season to provide some support to the plant as it grows and also to increase yield. When they are 30cm tall, earth up to 15cm. In the autumn when the leaves go yellow cut the stems right down to ground level and compost them.