Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Starting to harvest Jerusalem Artichokes

I promised some Jerusalem artichokes to my veggie box customers so I went out to harvest a few of my JA plants this morning. I have the gene that makes them taste like dirt so I can't eat them but most of my customers look forward to them at this time of year, especially for artichoke soup.

I was a little disappointed but certainly not surprised at the poor quality and amount of the tubers. These plants can handle a lot of abuse but the severe lack of rain and the heat really knocked them this past summer so they just couldn't produce good tubers. They didn't get watered as they usually don't need it but if next summer is the same I will have to put them in beds where I can get to them easily to water them.

The tubers were all infested with root aphids which infest plants when they are too dry for too long (as in this case) or have inconsistent watering. You can often find them on the roots of unhealthy house plants.

Here is a picture of a JA tuber with white, woolly root aphids on it. You can see them as little bits of white cotton wool-like stuff.

This is how most of the plants tubers are this year, far too small and knobbly to eat. I will have to clean them thoroughly of aphids and sell them for planting.
The plants suffered so much in the heat that they died down early, too early to grow out their tubers properly.

Live and learn I guess.

This is how good tubers look. A few plants were close enough to my other garden beds to get some water during the summer and they produced well.

Just for my sister who planted some seeds and now can't tell the difference between the white beetroot seedlings and weeds - as I promised on the phone, here is a picture of white beetroot seedlings. Now you can go out and compare them.


  1. JAs pump huge amounts of water out of the soil with all that foliage. Even here where lack of rain is not a problem, they are usually dry at their feet during summer and autumn. Cutting back some of the foliage towards the end of the season would help. Windbreaks to reduce transpiration? Or much wider spacing. Or sunken beds?

    1. Thanks for your ideas. I usually never have any problems with them as they usually grow well in the summer with no extra watering here. If we have another terrible summer like the last I will have to implement your ideas. Thanks.