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Why and How to Plant Jerusalem Artichokes in Your Food Forest

If you are looking for an easy to grow, colorful, and nutrient rich plant to add to your food forest then Jerusalem artichoke, also known as Sunchoke, is exactly what you need.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichoke can be harvested for its tubers which can be cooked up like potatoes and provide iron, vitamins, and other health benefits, especially for diabetics. Immature tubers can be planted in the spring for a late autumn harvest.

In this article, we will be reviewing all of the reasons why and the steps of how to grow Jerusalem artichokes in your garden including the plant’s benefits, the best location to plant them, when to plant Jerusalem artichokes, how to plant and care for them, and if they require replanting for the next growing season.

Why Are Jerusalem Artichokes a Good Addition to Your Garden?

Jerusalem artichokes are a great addition to any food garden because of their high harvest yield and their low maintenance nature. If you are an amateur gardener, Jerusalem artichokes are a great starter plant because they don’t require much care and maintenance aside from water and sun.

They are also great for attracting pollinators. The bright yellow flowers of Jerusalem artichokes draw in birds, bees, and butterflies to encourage seed pollination. You also don’t have to worry about not getting a large enough crop as these plants will spread across large stretches of territory and may outcompete any weeds that threaten to invade.

Bees On Jerusalem Arthichokes

Overall, Jerusalem artichokes provide a colorful addition to any garden, and since their harvestable parts grow underground, aren’t susceptible to aboveground threats like many pests or competitors for sunlight.

What Benefits Can Jerusalem Artichokes Bring to Your Food Forest?

If you are looking for food that is rich in nutrients and yields an abundant harvest, look no further than the Jerusalem artichoke. Once you begin harvesting the tubers in the fall, you can continue to harvest them throughout the winter so that you have a continuous supply of food.

Jerusalem artichokes have a high concentration of iron which is great for providing energy to the body and boosting red blood cells. They also have vitamin B1 and potassium to help build and repair nerves and muscles for a healthier you. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits that Jerusalem artichokes offer is a way to control your blood sugar levels.

The inulin found in Jerusalem artichokes has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels, especially in diabetics. Jerusalem artichokes are a starch, like potatoes but with far less sugar, and can be cooked up in a variety of ways. The benefits of this plant to your food forest and your diet are endless.

What Should You Be Wary of When Planting Jerusalem Artichokes?

The biggest concern with Jerusalem artichokes is their ability to completely take over an area. Once Jerusalem artichokes are established, they will grow and spread, taking out any other less hardy plants that stand in their way.

Invasive Jerusalem Artichokes

The best way to mitigate any damage done to other plants is to make sure they have their own space separate from any other food plants. While they are not poisonous or toxic, they can spread quite rapidly so take steps to keep your Jerusalem artichoke crop in check by carefully maintaining the borders of your designated plot so that they don’t stray outside their boundaries.

Where Is the Best Location to Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?

Jerusalem artichokes should ideally be planted in full sunlight, although they are not picky and will grow anywhere. If you have an empty spot in your garden that other plants will not thrive in, Jerusalem artichokes will gladly take root there. They do require an ample amount of room so that the tubers can spread and grow.

In fact, it may be a good idea to dedicate an entire area just for Jerusalem artichokes to avoid them out-competing any of the other plants in your food forest. In addition to sunlight, Jerusalem artichokes can grow under any soil conditions although well-drained soil is best for them.

Planting Jerusalem Artichokes

When it comes to soil conditions and sunlight, Jerusalem artichokes have a preference for full sun and well-drained soil, but they can thrive under almost any conditions. Of all the plants in your food garden, you’ll find that Jerusalem artichokes are the least picky.

When Should You Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?

Jerusalem artichoke tubers should be planted in early spring in order to promote a long, abundant growing season. The flowers will usually bloom in the summer and early fall. After the first frost of the year in late fall, the tubers will be ready for harvest, and you can continue to dig them up throughout the winter.

You can try to plant Jerusalem artichokes in late winter if the ground isn’t frozen, although there is a greater chance that a late winter freeze may kill the tubers before they get the chance to grow.

The absolute best time to plant is when the threat of frost has passed. You can always check the Farmer’s Almanac or your local nursery to see when that occurs in your area. This way you can ensure optimal growth and lots of tubers to harvest in the fall.

How Do You Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?

Instead of seeds, you will be planting small immature tubers to propagate more Jerusalem artichoke plants so that you have a high yield in the fall. The tubers should be planted about five inches under the soil with the eyes facing toward the surface. Tubers should be spaced about a foot to a foot and a half apart because they will grow fast and spread.

Cover the tubers with compost and moistened the soil to promote growth. Remember to leave ample space between planted tubers and any other plants in your food garden as Jerusalem artichokes may take over the real estate of other plants.

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Water the planted tubers after planting them, but don’t make the soil soggy. It’s also important not to plant the tubers too far down into the soil because the new plants may not grow to penetrate the surface of the soil like they should.

How Do You Care for Jerusalem Artichokes in My Food Forest?

Young Jerusalem artichokes will need to be watered and maintained, but once the plants are established, they are far more self sufficient. Once you’ve gotten past the stage of young growth, you can let nature do all the watering unless your area is experiencing drought conditions. In this case, you will need to make sure they get water on occasion.

It is a good idea to stake the plants or put supports in place as they can become top heavy especially during the summer when they begin to flower. Stabilizing your Jerusalem artichokes will prevent them from falling over and crushing other plants or snapping their own stalks and impeding growth.

Another way to help maintain a reasonable height for Jerusalem artichokes is the prune the flowers as they bloom. This will help lighten the top of the plant and prevent the seeds from spreading and the plants from overtaking your entire garden.

Will Jerusalem Artichokes Need to Be Replanted for the Following Growing Season?

If you were more than satisfied with your Jerusalem artichoke crop and want to grow them again for the following year, you don’t need to replant the tubers all over again. Instead, be sure to leave a few in the soil during harvesting season. Jerusalem artichokes will grow from tubers or even parts of the tubers remaining in the soil from the previous year.

Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers

If you weren’t happy with this year’s crop, then you need to be extremely thorough with your removal of Jerusalem artichoke tubers. If you miss even a half of a tuber, you will have more Jerusalem artichokes next year.

If you want an easy crop that you only have to do all the planting work for once, Jerusalem artichokes are the way to go – just make sure they have their own space. You will have a Jerusalem artichoke crop for years and years to come.

Conclusion

Jerusalem artichokes are a great addition to any food forest. The tubers are packed with iron, vitamins, potassium, and blood sugar reducing compounds that will help keep you energized, healthy, and fit. They can be cooked just like potatoes but without the fattening calories.

Jerusalem artichokes provide an abundant harvest that begins in late fall and can last throughout the winter. Tubers should be planted in early spring and when you are getting ready for the following growing season, leave some of the tubers in the ground and you will have a whole new crop ready to grow for the next year.

These plants are great for beginner gardeners since they require little maintenance and provide a high yield of crops. You can’t go wrong with Jerusalem artichokes in your garden!

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