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 .