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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem artichokes’

Although I ordered most of my bare-rooted plants weeks ago, new thoughts and ideas for myself and clients mean that there are more plants to order. So having done my last day of gardening work for this year, I can sit down and spend time perusing catalogues and websites again-a very pleasurable activity. I’ve plumped for Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ for a client wants a rose to grow up a tree and although not arriving for a few weeks yet, I could make the most of the promised mild days ahead to start preparing the ground for this scented beauty. The nice people at Peter Beales were happy, as ever, to give good advice about planting a rose near a tree. Try and plant at least 3 feet or more from the base of the tree to avoid competition from the tree roots and prepare the ground very well with loads of organic matter-home compost and well-rotted manure would be ideal. When planting, point the rose towards the tree and use a bamboo cane or rope to train the rose towards the tree. Next, wrap rope in a coil up the trunk to keep the rose stems as horizontal as possible as this will encourage the most flowers. Keep an eye on growth next year and tie stems in as they grow, as once the rose shoots up horizontally, it will be impossible to retrain without lopping off new growth. Paul’s Himalayan Musk is a Rambler, which means (unlike a Climber) that I shall have to wait a year before I see any flowers, as roses are formed on old wood. But I’ve chosen this variety as it’s a vigorous plant which will tough it out on poor soils and put up with a bit of shade, so with plenty of watering and judicious feeding, I will be rewarded with a wonderful skyward display in 18 months time!!

I’ve also just planted this wild rose (Rosa rugosa) as hedging in a neighbour’s front garden and hopefully will see the fruits of my labour this coming summer. There’s still plenty of time to order bare-rooted roses: Toby Buckland’s Nursery offers 10 well-selected cultivars, very reasonably priced wild rose hedging can be ordered from Victoriana Nursery and an abundance of roses can be easily selected on the very user-friendly Peter Beales website

On the fruit side, I’ve just ordered some ‘Joan J’ raspberries (from Ken Muir) to test alongside recently purchased ‘Polka’ canes and my ‘Autumn Bliss’ patch, for what I think is the best tasting variety.

And sweet, juicy Japanese Wineberries can be planted to fill the gap between your summer fruiting and autumn fruiting raspberries. Available bare-rooted from Victoriana Nursery, and Ken Muir.

And finally, I’ve been digging up Jerusalem Artichokes to eat for weeks now, but saving a few to replant in order to double my growing area for more of this delicious veg next year. The less knobbly Fuseau variety of tubers can be bought from Marshalls and can be planted from now until March.

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Jerusalem artichokes-Ooh, how I’ve missed them! These delicious knobbly vegetables are little nuggets of pure joy! Stuck indoors all week with a nasty cold, I finally summoned up enough energy to shuffle along to my allotment today. And this is my reward above.

Just digging them up is so exciting, as a mound of tubers is revealed just below the surface of the soil. With each plant I dig up, I normally put back one tuber into the soil, planting about 4-5 inches (10-12cm) deep and 1.5-2 ft (45-60cm) apart, so that I can have the same again next year, but chances are that I will have missed a tuber or two, so they’ll return whether wanted or not!

If you want to start a new patch of Jerusalem Artichokes, these can be planted from now until March, but be careful where you locate them as plants can grow up to 6ft (2m) tall.

I thought my scales might not take the load, as my first autumn harvest weighed in at a massive 3.4 kg or 7.5lbs. Jono, who writes the very entertaining Real Men Sow blog, delights in adding up how much his allotment fruit and veg has saved him. I thought I’d give this a go with my Jerusalem Artichokes, but Waitrose (yes, this is my nearest) won’t have them in their supermarkets until mid November, so I’ll have to postpone my calculations until then. And how fab that by growing your own, you can get hold of seasonal veg when available nowhere else. In fact Jerusalem Artichokes can be harvested for about 6 months, from October until March, but strangely, they must be one of the most difficult non-exotic veg to buy that I know of. With thin skins, they don’t store well once dug up, but unlike potatoes, you can cut down the stems once frosted, and leave the tubers in the soil until ready to be eaten all the way through winter.

Luckily, friend Valerie gave me some tubers to grow last year, but both knobbly Jerusalem Artichokes (as above) and the smoother Fuseau variety can be bought from most seed suppliers including Marshalls and the Victoriana Nursery .

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It was with great excitement but also much regret that I dug up my Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) today. Excitement, as each plant provides such an amazing haul of these splendid vegetables, but regret, as this is my last plant to harvest this winter, and I will have to wait until autumn now until I can have this wonderful treat again. The name Jerusalem comes from girasole-the Italian name for sunflower and they are indeed a member of the sunflower family. I’m not sure where the artichoke name comes from though, as they bear no resemblance to globe artichokes in either look or taste.

I don’t know why I hadn’t grown Jerusalem artichokes before, but a friend gave me 5 tubers to plant last year, and with no effort at all on my part, they produced a very bountiful crop. They have an exquisite subtle taste, unlike anything else, and can be cooked in many ways. Ok, they can cause a teeny bit of flatulence, but this is a small price to pay for such a tasty dish.

My favourite recipe at the moment is to par-boil the artichokes for 5 mins or so and  slice them into 5mm slices. Be careful not to boil for too long as they will disintegrate if overcooked. Meanwhile fry some bacon in a little oil and when cooked, remove bacon from the pan, leaving the fat. Finish off cooking the sliced Jerusalem artichokes in the bacon fat, add the bacon to the pan again, re-heat and then serve both artichokes and bacon on top of a dressed green salad. It’s a real warm winter delight.

I’m planning to plant many more tubers as I just couldn’t get enough of them this year. As a winter vegetable they are invaluable as they can be harvested for 6 months of the year from October to March, but despite being absolutely delicious, they are not that easy to buy in greengrocers or supermarkets. Jerusalem artichokes can be planted from January until March, about 4-6 inches deep (10-15cm) and 1-2ft (30-60cm) apart in all soils, in an open or shady site. Be warned, once you plant them, they’re almost impossible to get rid of, but I think this can only be a positive thing. They grow to about 6ft (2m) high, so take care as to where you plant them so as not to shade other veg. Fuseau seems to be the main variety available to buy and each tuber will produce about 2-3kg when harvested.

Still going strong at the allotment are Cavalo Nero, a great source of winter greens and a lovely architectural plant to look at and

I’ve been digging up leeks too. They may look a bit tatty at this time of the year, but they still have a wonderful taste and are an invaluable addition to soups and stews or just as steamed veg with a creamy vinaigrette-delicious!

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