Jerusalem artichoke is a perennial sunflower.
In the Winter, it survives as underground rhizomes, the "artichoke".
In the Spring, the knobbly rhizomes sprout one or more stems.
These can grow to 2 metres by the Autumn and will then proceed to flower.
It is worth growing just for the flowers themselves.
Jerusalem artichokes are very easy to grow.
When you receive your tubers plant them without delay into fertile, well drained soil.
Soil with some added sand is ideal.
At harvest time, when the tubers are dug up, the sandy soil will just crumb away.
Sprinkle blood and bone on the soil and mix in well before planting.
The tubers should be spaced 30-45cm from each other and set 15cm deep.
After planting, water the soil well to settle it in, and then apply snail bait.
The young shoots will need to be protected until they get to around 30cm tall.
Apart from slugs and snails, it is relatively pest free and there shouldn't be any need to spray during the growing season.
Water well in the summer.
The plants will grow quite tall (2m) and will require staking.
It is better to plant in a block rather than a line because it helps the plants support each other.
Decrease watering when the plants start to flower and stop altogether after the flowers fade.
During the growing season, occasional light applications of fertiliser will encourage more growth, resulting in more tubers.
Leave the tubers to over winter in the soil (this is where free draining soil is a requirement) as the frost enhances the flavour.
You can dig the tubers from late winter onwards.
The tubers do not last long when dug up, so only dig up what is needed and save a few in the soil for next season.
Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw.
Freshly dug tuber is best for this.
Brush the soil from the tuber and then peel it.
The white flesh is quite crunchy.
Otherwise, they can be used like potatoes.