Though they may not be as popular as other root vegetables, Jerusalem Artichokes are commonly found throughout North America. If you plan to grow them, you will want to know your Jerusalem Artichoke growing zone. This will help ensure you live in the right environment that will allow them to flourish.
Fortunately, the great thing about Jerusalem Artichokes is that they have the capability to grow in many different areas. In fact, they grow so easily that they are almost considered invasive in some areas. They can be a great plant to grow for gardeners of all experience levels.
What Are Jerusalem Artichokes?
Despite their name, Jerusalem Artichokes are actually native to North America, not Jerusalem and they have no relation to artichokes. They are a type of root vegetable that belongs to the sunflower family. They are also called sunchokes and they are typically prepared like a starchy vegetable.
Sunchokes have a white flesh that is nutty, sweet, and crunchy, similar to chestnuts when raw. When you bake them in their skins, they become similar to potatoes while having a mild taste like artichoke hearts.
You can eat sunchokes either raw or cooked. However, for some people, they can cause excess gas due to the fact they store energy as inulin.
During the summer, they sport tall, yellow flowers. They can grow to be 6-10 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. Sunchokes are a great plant to grow for novice gardeners.
There are a few different varieties of Jerusalem Artichokes, with French Mammoth White, Golden Nugget, and Fuseau being the most common. These varieties are all great for growing in your garden.
French Mammoth White sunchokes are very popular and produce good-sized, white tubers that are knobby. The Golden Nugget variety has a tapering tuber and a flavor that is smooth. The Fuseau variety is popular for producing large, smooth tubers early on that exhibit somewhat of a smoky flavor.
Jerusalem Artichoke Growing Zones
Due to their adaptability and hardiness, Jerusalem Artichokes are able to grow in a variety of areas. They do well when grown in Zones 3-9. The artichoke zone is can vary depending on where you live.
Since they do best in cooler environments, it is not recommended to grow them in zone nine and above. However, you can still have success growing them in these zones, but there is no guarantee that they will thrive.
Jerusalem Artichokes due best in full sun or partial shade. Ideally, you want them to get at least six hours of sun a day. You can research to make sure where you live is a Jerusalem Artichoke growing zone.
They can grow in just about every soil type, even in heavy clay soil. However, they do not do well in soggy conditions. Their ideal soil is fertile and loose, while also being well-drained and slightly alkaline.
Though they are capable of handling drought, they do best with at least one weekly watering. Their ideal temperature for growing is between 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
How To Plant Jerusalem Artichokes
The ideal time to plant your sunchoke tubers is in early spring. You should plant them when the soil is at least 50 degrees. If you think you might have a hard freeze, add a layer of mulch to protect them from the cold.
You should space the tubers 12 to 18 inches apart, around five inches deep. The eyes of the tubers should be facing upwards and they should weigh at least 1.75 ounces in order to have a good harvest. Your soil should be damp, but you do not want it to be wet.
Where to Get Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers for Planting
You can purchase Jerusalem Artichoke tubers at most gardening stores. In addition, they are also readily available online as well, which is great if you don’t live close to a gardening store. They are often very affordable to buy and you can purchase them in bulk quantities.
When To Harvest Them
The best time to harvest Jerusalem Artichokes is between October to December. However, they can be flavorful and sweeter after experiencing a frost or two. In general, they take between 110 to 150 days to reach full maturity.
If you want to extend your harvest, you can add a thick layer of mulch to protect the sunchokes from frost. You can use a fork, hand rake, or your hands to carefully locate the tubers or simply just pull up the stalk from the base. You typically want to wait to harvest them until the flowers have died.
How To Store Them
Jerusalem Artichokes do not have as long of a shelf life once harvested as other starchy vegetables such as potatoes have. You can store them in your fridge for around 10 days or so. You can also keep them in a root cellar that is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for a couple of months.
It is best to store them in perforated plastic bags or slightly vented containers. They should be slightly damp in order to prevent them from shriveling.
In addition, you can also freeze cooked Jerusalem Artichokes. After cooking, allow them to fully cool before putting them in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag in the freezer. Freeze them for up to three to six months and allow them to cool for a couple of hours in the fridge or heat them up directly out of the freezer.
Growing Your Own Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes are great for gardeners of all experience levels and do best in zones 3-9. They are native to North America and tend to grow in abundance due to their hardiness. Not only do they produce beautiful yellow flowers, but they also produce edible tubers you can eat raw or cooked.
Sunchokes taste especially good after one or two frosts occur. They tend to develop a stronger flavor and are often sweeter as well. However, they do not keep as long as other starchy vegetables and they should be kept in a cool, damp environment.
Do you have any questions regarding your Jerusalem Artichoke growing zone? If so, please ask any questions regarding sunchokes and how to grow them in the comment section down below.