When do I dig Jerusalem artichokes?

Jerusalem artichokesI knew they’d get big, but I wasn’t prepared for this.

The Jerusalem artichokes are about 8ft tall, and still growing. I’m told they’ll flower soon, but I’m not holding my breath: the UK weather has been beyond awful. Even by our low, low standards.

To be honest, I don’t know when to harvest them, or how to know they’re ready. Never grown them before.

Anyone out there got any top fartichoke expertise to guide me?

(PS Any hints for reducing the wind effect would also be most welcome. It’s like castor oil without the follow-through.)

12 Responses to “When do I dig Jerusalem artichokes?”

  1. danny Says:

    cut the stems down at the start of winter and dig as required from then until february/march – they keep best in the ground (possibly earth up a bit to reduce slug/woodlice holes) – leave a few smaller tubers/stalk bases in the ground and you’ll have a huge crop again 09 – don’t need much feeding if soil is quite rich.

    live with the wind – the taste is great (eg cream of JA soup, roast JA, JA Dauphinoise), and it’s the easiest veg – or start a plant breeding programme to develop a windless variety

  2. Cat Says:

    You dig them late; later leading to never in our case usually because I know of no way to avoid the hurricane of farts that follow.

    But, seriously, they keep well in the ground, hardy and don’t start to sprout until the spring is quite well advanced. Chop the stems to stumps for tidiness but leave something showing to help find them again. You’ll never find them all. If you think you’ll be frost bound, take some for the fridge but otherwise, dig as required.

  3. Clare Says:

    I too am growing them for the first time so this is useful for me. To reduce the fart effects when eating them, the tubers should be parboiled and the water used discarded. They can then be roasted, souped or whatever as usual. They’ll still make you fart, but not nearly as violently. Trust me – I have experimented.

  4. Cazaux's Food Factory Says:

    My mate Bob’s growing loads of them.

    I plan to avoid him for few months when he’s dug his ones up.

  5. Patrick Says:

    You should probably wait until the tops are killed by a frost, then cut them off. And, yes, like every said, just harvest through the winter according to your needs.

    Moderation is probably the best way to deal with the wind. The wind is caused by inulin, the sugar they contain. It bothers some people more than others, and usually isn’t a big problem for me.

    My favortie way to eat them is first clean them, cut off the bad spots and quickly put them into acidulated water to prevent browning. Then rinse, briefly pat dry and rub with a little olive oil. Roast at 200C or so until they turn brown and start oozing a bit. Serve with butter if desired (and allowed by your diet).

    Mine are already blooming, so yours must be on their way. How did you get yours to grow up? Mine are sort of growing across the ground, and I was unprepared with anything suitable to support them.

  6. irena Says:

    great post soilman and lots of useful comments. I’ve grown jerusalem artichoke for years but only for the blooms. this year I plan a taste test. I hope yours bloom. mine are almost there. the cheery yellow flowers are worth the wait.

  7. laura Says:

    fun post soilman fartichoke no amount of special cooking, adding fennel or savory or drinking copious amounts of pastis(pernod)stops the hurricane effect for me – I love eating them and I live on a mountain so I don’t care.

    Re-cultivation. I read something like this somewhere not sure where though. …..In midsummer remove flowerheads and cut back stems to 1.5-2m (5-6ft) so energy is concentrated on tubers. Keep moist. When leaves begin to yellow in autumn cut back the stems to 8cm (3”) above ground. Lay foliage over as a mulch to aid harvest in winter…..

    I generally leave the flowers but when the stalks begin to die back I cut them down to about a foot off the soil and mulch with leafmould or straw.

  8. laura Says:

    Forgot to mention a couple of years back there was a discussion on KG forum on the same subject and someone suggested adding Asafoetida or Devil’s Dung and Indian resign used as a spice. For all those who tried it it worked. I forgot to try adding Asafoetida so perhaps there is salvation.

  9. Soilman Says:

    Thanks everyone for terrifically helpful comments.

  10. joco Says:

    Hiya Soilman,

    Tell all your neighbours or the entire village about them and a high percentage will come by and harvest them for you. What’s even better, they’ll take them off your hands 🙂
    Grow something edible instead, like softfruit or asparagus, which you actually want to eat.

  11. macrobill Says:

    To deal with the wind. Most important for these and all vegetables and grain – chew them well – minimum of 50 times to 200 times. Digestion will be greatly improved as will nutrition derived from them to feed the body.


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