Sunday, April 20, 2014

Growing Jerusalem artichoke from seed

Now that my Jerusalem artichokes / sunchokes are dying down I decided to pull up the one seedling that I managed to grow from the 3 seeds I collected last year.

The plant was small, as I expected from a seedling, but it had a surprisingly good harvest.
The tubers were no different or better than the 'usual' artichokes but I also expected that as you have to grow a lot from seed to find a chance seedling that is better than its parents.
They were quite knobbly and tasted the same but now I have a new 'variety' that will flower and pollinate my other artichokes better as they don't self pollinate well. That was my goal.

I was lucky this year as after the parrots stripped my sorghum, sunflowers and most of the artichoke flowers I went through the flowers that I could see and found a couple of them with seeds. I ended up with 19 seeds that I will plant next spring.

This means that I should have a lot of plants that will pollinate each other and produce seed - I might eventually be able to breed a new and better variety. So much for all the people who insist that Jerusalem artichokes don't produce seed at all and can only be propagated from tubers.

I actually don't like artichokes, I have the gene that makes them taste like dirt, but it is a fun project that might pay dividends as there are no named varieties in Australia and I might in the future be able to breed something that is truly different, well, as long as I have the room.

As I said, the parrots have been stripping all my tall plants so although I love growing sorghum, especially broom sorghum, I think I will not be able to grow it again as it is so hard to keep the birds off and it is too tall to cover effectively. I am worried now that they will discover the corn next year :(

As long as the frosts hold off a couple of weeks longer I should be able to harvest my one cob off the Giant White Peruvian corn. It is a bit uncovered so I hope the parrots don't find it but it is looking good so far. The heat of summer meant that the husks didn't grow the cover the ears properly on all my corn. I am glad that pests weren't a problem with them.

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