How do I plant and care for Jerusalem artichokes?
—Dorothy Peters, Murphy, NC
The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)—also called a sunchoke—is a perennial sunflower native to Canada and the eastern United States. It grows up to10 feet tall, with bright yellow flowers in late summer. It’s best known for its edible tuber, which can be cooked, stir-fried, or eaten raw, somewhat like a water chestnut.
Grow Jerusalem artichokes in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Tubers grown in loose loam will be easier to dig. Plant tubers in the spring. Make sure each tuber, or piece of tuber, is about the size of an egg and has at least two buds. Since the plant can spread rampantly, plant it in an enclosed area so it won’t invade your lawn or the rest of your garden.
Care for sunchokes as you would potatoes, with regular watering and weeding. Plants may need staking, too. Harvest tubers after a hard frost. Wash and dry the tubers—they’ll keep in the refrigerator for several months.