Growing Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes)

David Trammel's picture

One of the plants I want to try is Sunchokes, aka Jerusalem Artichokes. They are a hardy plant, with a tasty tuber. They grow tall like a sunflower and do well in poor soil. You can also use the tubers to make a liquor, which is pretty cool.

They are also as invasive as bamboo, so be careful how you grow them. This article from Practical Self Reliance has some hints. I like the idea of growing them in trash cans. I've got some space near a fence where they could be put and might do well.


We've grown sunchokes although primarily as a quick screen that birds love.

They DEMAND full sun. As soon as it starts getting shady, they sulk.
If they're happy, they spread and self-sow. They get tall too. Six to eight feet is what we got.
Birds love the seeds.

Washing sunchokes clean requires time and scrubbing and time and fastidious scrubbing to get into the knobby roots and peeling them is another exercise in frustration. Maybe our tubers were overcrowded but think of scrubbing and peeling knotty, knobby roots the size of your cat's paw. It's not easy like a potato or a carrot.

I like the taste and never had a problem with digesting them but some people do.

I have sunchokes too. Spreading is an issue, but lack of sunny spots limit my options, so I just cut them back. My biggest problem is that they tend to fall over during a heavy rain. They are very late bloomers here. I’ll have to pay attention as to where they have time to set seed for the birds. I heard that if you dig in the late winter, the roots are converting the inulin into more digestible carbohydrates. I’ve also heard that slow cooking is another solution to digestibility. Unfortunately I’m better at growing than processing so have no personal experience.

Here’s is an interesting article from a writer I like. He says seed production requires genetically distinct individuals.
OIKOS nursery has some varieties advertised as easier to clean.