Artichoke, Jerusalem

Jul / Aug
Jan / Feb

Why Grow It

Jerusalem artichoke is not related to the globe artichoke. In fact, they couldn’t be more different. Unlike globe artichoke, they are an exceptionally prolific plant and are a staple veg during what we GIYers call the ‘hungry gap’ (late winter into early spring). Jerusalem artichoke is also a joy to grow, suffer no diseases, will grow pretty much in any soil, and can be a very versatile veg in the kitchen.

  • Jerusalem artichoke are like potatoes – while they do produce seeds, we never propagate them from seeds. Instead, plant tubers into the ground, which can be acquired by mail order or from selected garden centres and other growers.
  • For best results plant in March or April.
  • Plant tubers in small holes 30cm apart. We suggest planting tubers in a row on the northern end of your vegetable bed, as they grow to up to 3m in height and shade anything growing close.
  • The plants, being so tall, are susceptible to being blown over in early autumn gales. This can be prevented by any of the following methods;
    • Staking: an effective support is to hammer posts/stakes into the ground at the end of the row on either side and run a few lengths of chicken wire or twine from one post to the other to create support fence.
    • Earthing up: this means dragging the surrounding soil up around the stem of the plant. You can do this once or twice during the growing season when plants are about 30cm high.
    • Cutting down the foliage: in late summer you can cut down the foliage to about one metre. However, this method  seems a shame as you miss out on the lovely yellow flowers (they are part of the sunflower family) that come out in autumn. The foliage should be cut down after flowering.
  • Check plants regularly for weeds and remove if found.
  • Watering is not usually required by plant.
  • The tubers can be dug up throughout the autumn and winter, and left in the ground until needed.
  • If slugs start damaging the tubers, then they can be dug out and stored in sand or peat.
  • Make sure you dig out all the tubers at the end of the growing season, as they sprout readily the following year giving you a weed problem.
  • The tubers start sprouting in March – at this stage you can use them to plant next year’s bed.
  • The only problems usually encountered are being blown over in autumn gales.
  • Slugs can become a problem as they normally take an interest in the tubers over the winter – you can store tubers in sand or peat if this is the case.