Before You Plant Sunchokes, You Need to Read This Post
Sunchokes (AKA Jerusalem artichokes) are gaining popularity for their health benefits. Learn how to grow sunchokes, when to harvest and how to use them – plus the big mistake that we made when we first planted them.
What are sunchokes?
Sunchokes are native to eastern North America. They are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes or Sunroots. They are not related to Artichokes, but they are related to sunflowers. The whole “Jerusalem” thing is supposedly linked to the Italian word girasola, which means sunflower.
Sunchokes are a perennial plant that grows six to ten feet tall. While they do have pretty yellow flowers, they are grown for their edible roots. Their roots are high in inulin (more on that below), and can be used raw or cooked.
Historically, sunchokes have been a valuable food source in Native American culture, especially during late winter when storage runs low and spring crops are not yet available. (See Full Moon Feast for more on yearly eating cycles.)
How do you Grow Sunchokes?
Sunchokes are grown from roots or sections of root, typically planted in spring or fall while roots are dormant. (Order sunchoke tubers here.)
For best results, use the following planting guidelines:
- Sunchokes prefer loose, well-drained soil, but will tolerate poor soils. (Lighter soil makes harvesting easier.)
- Space sunchoke tubers 12 to 18 inches apart, 4 to 6 inches deep.
- Space rows 4-6 feet apart (they will be prone to spreading).
- Soil temperature at planting should be at least 50F.
- Plant in full sun
- Do not plant in areas that are consistently wet, as wet soil will rot the tubers. Plants are drought tolerant, but produce best will a regular supply of water.
- pH of soil best between 5.8 and 6.2 (neutral soil)
- Preferred growing temps = 65 to 90 F.
- Cover your soil with an inch or so of organic mulch for easier harvesting and root protection.
- Plant in a dedicated bed that can be mowed around for control, or sink barriers into the soil around the sunchokes at least 24 inches deep to prevent spreading. (More on this below.)
When are Sunchokes Ready to Harvest?
Sunchokes are harvested in late fall or early spring. They require 110 -150 days to maturity, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Light frost increases the sweetness of the tubers.
Unlike potatoes and some other root crops, sunchokes cannot be cured and stored. They have a thin skin and dry out easily. I have kept them in container in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. They keep best in the ground, dug as needed for use.
In northern areas, a thick layer of mulch may keep your sunchokes accessible longer, but may also encourage mice or voles to move in and have a snack.
For bigger roots, make sure your plants don’t get too crowded, and ensure they get watered regularly. You can also cut off flower stalks to encourage root growth. Please don’t cut off all your sunchoke flowers! They flower late in the season, when flower choices are limited for pollinators.
How do I Eat Sunchokes?
Sunchokes are edible raw or cooked, including the skins. They are difficult to peel and turn grey quite quickly, so a good scrubbing is a better option.
Raw, sunchokes are similar in texture to a water chestnut or jicama. After a light frost, they take on a somewhat nutty flavor. For my part, they taste best raw after a frost.
To help prevent browning of sliced sunchokes, soak the tubers in a mix of 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or ¼ cup vinegar) and one quart water.
Sunchokes need to be treated as their own vegetable. Boiled and mashed – plain awful; in a stir fry, tasty. There are entire websites devoted to sunchoke recipes, but here are a few easy options for you to try.
- Baked sunchokes – Bake well-scrubbed tubers at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until fork tender. Toss with a bit of oil and seasonings before baking for extra flavor.
- Sunchoke stir fry – Substitute sunchokes for water chestnuts in your favorite stir fry recipe.
- Steamed sunchokes – Steam whole sunchokes for 10-15 minutes. Shorten steaming time if cubed or sliced. Serve with butter and a sprinkle of parsley, or a dash of lemon and dusting of nutmeg.
- Sunchoke chips – Thinly slice sunchokes and drop into hot oil. Fry chips until lightly browned and drain on a paper bag. Salt and season warm chips to taste.
Do Sunchokes Cause Gas?
Sunchokes are loaded with inulin.
Inulin is a type of starch that although not digestible by humans, acts as a prebiotic in the digestive tract, feeding our beneficial bacteria.
It's become a widely use filler in many foods to bump up the fiber counts. It also increases calcium absorption in the body, and doesn't spike blood sugar. (See the book “Perennial Vegetables” for all the dirty details.) There are even sweeteners made for diabetics made out of sunchokes.
Some sources claim that eating a large amount of sunchokes may lead to mild gas for those who are not used to it. They have even been nicknamed, “fartichokes”.
I can testify that eating a large portion of boiled sunchokes will give you horrible, gut-racking gas like you have never experienced before…well, except for that one time when you were pregnant and thought it was a good idea to eat prunes, cheese curds and cucumbers in large amounts all at the same time.
Start slowly when eating sunchokes, and perhaps avoid serving them in large quantities at dinner parties. Give your digestive system time to build up the right bacteria to deal with the extra inulin.
Readers have suggested a couple of different tips to beat sunchoke gas. One suggested that you eat some sunchokes raw, and don’t scrub all the dirt off.
I assume that some soil microbes come with to help aid digestion. Another reader says that harvesting after frost is a big help, as the frost naturally breaks down some of the inulin for you.
A Word of Caution About Growing Sunchokes
“Easy to grow” and “disease-free through heat and drought” are code words for “You will Never Get Rid of this Plant!”
When I first planted sunchokes, I skimmed over the note in the seed catalog that said “they will spread and may be invasive”.
I planted my tubers late in spring, in one corner of a garden bed. There were nine rather wrinkled little roots, and I didn't think they would all survive. Not only did they survive, they thrived. We tried to harvest the whole patch that first year, but must have missed a few.
The next spring they were back, and they were spreading. We tried to keep up eating them, but the fall was muddy and we couldn't get into harvest.
By the third season, we had the lovely thicket of 12 foot tall flowers you see at the post. As I was digging them in fall, I tossed some damaged roots off into the tall grass away from the garden.
Sunchokes Spread from the Smallest Bit of Tuber
Fast forward to spring. Those root bits haphazardly thrown into the weeds – they've now sprouted into plants. There's a new sunchoke colony.
I decide I need to get rid of some of the sunchokes, and invite anyone who would like some to come dig them. Two friends come over.
Four different adults attack the patch. Bushels and bushels of sunchokes are hauled out of the garden. The patch size is reduced roughly by half to start the spring.
Time passes. The bed is worked up again by my boys. They remove more sunchokes from the same area that the adults have already gone over.
Before I put the transplants in, I work over the same area one more time. THERE ARE STILL SUNCHOKES COMING UP! This area has been gone over by four adults and two kids, and there are still sunchokes hiding in the dirt.
Here's the main patch. You can see the smaller outliers in the foreground. That area should be clear.
Here's a nice, innocent looking sunchoke seedling.
Once we dig it up, we see that this single tuber is trying to regrow an entire sunchoke thicket.
Even tiny pieces, no bigger than the tip of my thumb, can regrow entire large, vigorous plants.
They're virtually unstoppable. Weeks later, and I'm still digging up shoots from among my cabbage seedlings.
Plan Ahead with Your Sunchoke Plantings
I urge you, do not plant sunchokes in a standard garden bed, or field, or anywhere else you might like to grow other plants at some time in the future. You will spend very large amounts of time attempting to remove them if you do.
Plant them in their own area that can be mowed around, to keep them under control. You can also plant them in pots – as long as they are big pots. Try one tuber per 18 inch diameter pot.
My neighbor says her horseradish plants are the same way. Plant both at your own risk. Maybe they should be planted next to each other, to see which one wins.
Alternatively, introduce pigs or chickens into your sunchoke area and let them tackle clean up duty. Jerusalem artichokes make a fine fodder crop.
Sunchokes are good for you. They look pretty, taste okay, and are quite expensive to buy in many areas, if they are available at all.
They’re a “perfect” choice for a new exotic vegetable to try. I just wanted to let you know that you're likely to have a lifetime commitment with them once they enter your garden. Don't say I didn't warn you. 😉
Are there any other plants you've grown that want to take over your garden?
Leave a comment to warn other gardeners before they end up fighting them, too.
Also, if you could include in your comments roughly what area you are from, that would be great. Some plants will spread in some locations but not in others.
Originally published in 2012, updated 1/18/2017.
Good to know, thanks!
Another wonderful native plant is Poke Sallet. The young shoots taste like asparagus, and the leaves are tasty and nutritional ( after being boiled, liquid poured off and then reboiled with seasonings)
However, it is as invasive as Sunchokes, so requires the same precautions.
I second your recommendation of poke, but only prepare and eat it if you know what you are doing. It can be poisonous if not prepared properly.
Always good to know what you are doing with wild plants.
I inherited a sunchoke colony when we purchased our home. I thought they were sunflowers and when cutting back at end of season noticed all of the tubers in soil. Since they shaded other sun loving plants I dug up all I thought were remaining in bed. Clearly missed some. Three years and still unable to eradicate. Managed to control sprawl by almost year round digging up of every bit of material they produce. Not practical for large areas. Mine is a 4’x6′ area. Now. I also find them close to 3 feet down in soil so dig deep! I have accepted they are not going anywhere.
Mint left me with two foot thick stack of tight roots under my veg garden. 8 helpers shoveled them out dirt and all. I covered the garden to shade it out after this for the survivors. It was amazing. I only found one plant this year. Sunchokes could not be planted on the island as birds would carry the seed over to the beach.
I grew up eating poke. We just washed it good, and sautee in butter, salt and pepper. Never made anyone sick. Everyone in my area who ate it, did it the same way.
This has never made me ill, but I take some of the larger leaves, fry them crispy in bacon grease, salt pepper, and pat dry on a paper towel. VERY crispy, and delicious! I have done this since I was a kid.
I don’t recommend you do this, unless you eat poke on a regular basis, the same way my family does, as stated above.
Never made you sick because you grew up on them! We just tried for the first time and my husband adored them (roasted like potatoes in the oven) and ate 80% of it all, first time, and had the horrible stomach pains talked about here.
My husband has bought sunchokes at Trader Joe’s in the past and we love them! He slices them, about a 1/4″ thick and sautées/browns them in a skillet with some garlic, salt & pepper. Kind of like breakfast potatoes or home fries. Delicious!
All parts of the Poke Weed are highly toxic to humans! The toxic berries are attractive to small children! BTW, the cooked leaf tips are called “Poke Sellid,” a mispronunciation of “salad.”
If ANY part of the poke plant was toxic to humans, I would have died about 69 years ago. I’m 70. Us folks in the south have been eating poke SALAD since there have been people in the south! Ever heard the song “Poke Salad Annie?” If you eat it and croak, we’ll sing it at your funeral!! HAHAHAHA….No, the poke plant is well received in the south, has been for years, and is likely to continue until it actually DOES make somebody sick. Enjoy!!
I wonder if sunchoke would be an effective barrier to Japanese Knotweed. Do the tubers of the sunchoke get into and destroy masonry?
I have them growing along the south foundation of our house. Neither the root fibers nor the tubers affect the block foundation at all. I ripped out some shrubs the old owners had growing along the east foundation for that very reason.
There is some Knot Weed growing in our town, but not on my property nor near any other plantings of Sunchokes, so I can’t say which would out compete.
My husband’s family has a story about a grandmother or something getting sick off poke salad that hadn’t been cooked properly. I think you’re supposed to boil it once and pour off the water and then start over. Doesn’t matter because he won’t eat it since he’s convinced it would kill him.
there is a song called …Poke Sallit Annie
Interesting. Thanks so much for the info. I just planted 3 tubers by the back fence of my garden…wishing I had read this article first! I have already experienced this with mint and horse radish as well. Didn’t even give a thought to life-time commitment to sun chokes! Guess I need to stay active!
I live up against a green belt in our city and have just a chain link fence so anyone enjoying the green belt can see right in my yard which is really no big deal but i decided to plant sunchokes that i got for free from a friend that was in hindsight was all too eager to get rid of them well this is year 3 and not only do these make a great most of the summer privacy screen but because we made the mistake of planting 3 types of mint on the back of the property that smells amazing and have completely taken up about 200 sq feet we have a mojito party for the last 2 years our friends bring the rum and triple sec we provide the fruit and all the mint set up a sheet with a projector to watch a movie and the neighbors open their yard so the kids can bring their tents for a camp sleepover we make sunchoke chips and pulled pork sandwiches for all to snack on everybody loves em and they are second in popularity only to the mint pot brownies we are already getting requests for the date of this years party
I admire your honesty sir! lol….
I’d like to think its the pulled pork i spend 8hrs smoking but i see everybodys smile when the kids leave and those brownies come out ha ha by the way we cut the chokes into chips when they are fresh then freeze em and fry them still frozen every time we want some veggie chips a harvest usually lasts a year and they come out crispy and delicious
do you need to parboil the sunchokes before freezing them
It’s best to blanch them before freezing. 2-3 minutes in boiling water, then into an ice bath.
When’s the next party? Sounds great!
I also have a chain fence around my yard. There’s a corner that I’d like to plant something for privacy. What do these look like in winter? Do you cut down the flowers and stalks, dig out the sunchokes, and the area becomes open again?
If you want to harvest all the roots, then yes, you cut them back and dig. If you don’t harvest all the roots and leave the plant intact, they will stand through the hole winter. For the health of the patch, it’s best to dig all you can (more will regrow from missed bits of root), but if you just want privacy and flowers, you can leave them in place.
We’re in the Pacific NW, USA. Our sunchokes’ upper greenery dies-back during winter freezes, once nights dip below freezing. But they form about a 5′ to 6′ tall “screen”, once they re-grow in spring, and last well-into fall. Takes a few months for them to return to their full height. Freezes cause them to turn brown, wilt-y and die-back. Then we harvest the roots. I clean the roots, and store those in bottom crisper drawer of fridge, for at least 2 weeks before using [decreases the gassy effect]
If a few of the roots are left in the ground, they come back in spring.
Ours make “berries”, which will also spread more plants. This year, I experimented with lopping off the upper plants to about half-height, to prevent berries forming and spreading. Have had to uproot too many volunteers from the compost pile, repeatedly, due to tossing the berries from the plants into there.
I would very much like to get hold of some of those berries. I have never heard of them having berries that propagate the plants. I grow two different varieties – white and red. The red variety is very smooth instead of knobby. I live in a very dry area with a short growing season. I have enjoyed sunchokes since I was a kid, and have a hard time growing enough of them here. If I could plant them from berries that would be great. Thanks,
UPDATE on lopping-off upper half of the ‘chokes: It worked great! No berries spreading rogue plants. Just lopped-off the upper half of the plants, as soon as they started opening a couple flowers.
Michael Porter, believe me, you’re best-off getting Jerusalem artichokes from the [organic] grocery store’s produce isle, and starting some of them, than me trying to send dried berries of these things!
We simply bought some organic local-grown at local Co-Op grocery, and messed around with growing some. Just dig them into some nice dirt… a whole one; keep a little damp.
Once these things get established, it really is hard to get rid of them, so make sure they are where it’s OK for them to stay.
I don’t know what you are eating but Helianthus tuberosus does not produce berries. I think your comments are unsafe.
Well the area will never really be open again sunchokes will always grow there unless you chemically treat the area but the area i use for privacy is not used for food so after the plants have all died i go through and knock them down this allows them to be used as compost for the next generation and i dont have to go through digging im on my 5th year and the area is so dense i can’t even see people on the green belt from about july 1st until well into november i did leave them up all winter last year and by christmas they were way too raggedy i hope this helps you pick a direction to go in
LOVE that! LOL!
sounds like a nice neighborhood. in mine they’d just as soon shoot you as look at you. Only 6 of us been here for 30+ years that trust each other, yet are not social friends. Blessings at Thanksgiving!
rita , I know how that can be! We had some real situations, in the neighborhood of our rural property…it got real bad.
May your blessings be many, and your troubles few!
Sounds like a great win all the way around for so many. Blessings!
I forgot to tell you that I live in north central Wilamette Valley in Oregon.
I want an invite! ????
I LOVED reading this. Put a big smile on my face. Thank you.
i just saw your post about your party. i hope those parties are still a tradition. how cool to live in a neighborhood like that.
I live in tropical africa. Has anyone out there tried growing sunchokes somewhere there is no frost and monsoon rains? Seems like a possible food security staple for poor peoples around the world.
I can’t find any reference to them being successfully grown in a tropical climate, only that the are not recommended for growing in a tropical climate. I suspect they may require at least some chilling, and be prone to rotting in heavy rains. There are many crops that thrive in those conditions that would be better suited as food staples.
Frost brings out their sweetness
What about trying taro root I tropics?
Wonder if a refrigerator can substitute for cold winters, to bring out the sweetness?
Could the sweetness be related to the quality of the soil, too?
We have wet winters in the Pacific NW of USA….any of the ‘chokes left in the dirt, will still grow just fine….but those are chilly rains, not warm rains….might make a difference?
I’m sure soil impacts flavor, and yes, fridge time could improve sweetness, but from my experience they don’t store well for an extended time in the fridge.
They will grow fine with no frost but, as the article says, they can rot if the soil stays really wet. You might have to harvest before the monsoon or grow in a large, raised bed.
Besides horseradishes, calendula will also spread and be hard to stop. However, both horseradish and calendula are beneficial to the soil. They will bring up nutrients that are very beneficial. They are really good to plant around trees and in your orchard to help bring up the nutrients.
Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that I live in West Virginia.
Up in Saskatchewan, horseradish will make a permanent home wherever itis planted and spread a bit every year. (By the way, wear rubber gloves when you handle the root-man, do they burn!) I kept mine under control for three+ years by planting it between a building (it didn’t spread where no light reached), and a wide sidewalk; I made sure the blocks framed the plant well and covered at least a 2 foot margin. For better or for worse, the annual attack of flea beetles also helps check some growth : p
I was given horseradish roots that were over 40 years old I have the since 79 cannot get to them so waiting for new patch in open area but those who have gotten some said it is strong
I’ve also been told to get a separate blender jug to use for blenderizing fresh horseradish roots…as it’s THAT strong, it’s capable of leaving the smell in the plastic of the blender jug.
We didn’t have any problem with residual odor even though we processed quite a few roots. We did wash the food processor immediately after processing.
I’m in WV too. Sunchokes and poke grow wild everywhere here – and Autumn olive and chanterelles. WV is edible. I’m from NC coast and I am really appreciating WV foraging. I have poke greens today that I picked on the walk to work that will make a tasty addition to lunch. (yes, I do pour 3 rotations of boiling water on them – no kitchen at work)
Thank you Laurie for the post!
Poke can be eaten throughout the season. When the leaves are small in the spring, say around 3” to 4” long you do not need to twice boil them, that’s when they are the tastiest. When ever the leaves grow over 4”’, boil them twice. That is the time they begin to store toxins. When the leaves grow over 6” boil three times.
A favorite breakfast dish was poke scrambled in with eggs. Yummy !
Calendula are easily pulled if need be, too. Horseradish is recommended plant for permaculture orchards.
Yes, there invasive. I just bought a house and discovered them when trying to make my new garden bed. They’re all over my lawn and in random places. My yards covered.
Thank you Laurie, I really liked your article. My family and I will be popping in to the ‘Chef and The Farmer’ in Kingston, and having a look at the menu.. None of us knew what the heck a sunchoke was!
You’re welcome. They’ve become more available in recent years, but still aren’t a common veggie to most.
Mine have taken over an 8×4 raised bed… Because I think I skipped over that part too.
The other thing is to tubers are different than the ones I usually see at my local food Co-Op. They look more like Japanese yams. There smaller what the same color purple ish Brown. Kind of afraid to eat them.
As for plants but I regret planting because they take over or are hard maintenance, one is a trumpet Vine any other is wisteria.They both spread all over the place and wisteria needs way too much pampering.
I grow mine on a field scale and harvest them for months. I just pass over the field with a plough or rotovator / filler several times and the sheep help themself.
If I need to clear the patch permanently, I just let thesheep graze on all the emerging shootsuntil April here in France…????
Thanks, John. If I understand correctly, you use rotational grazing and let the sheep do all the harvesting, right?
STINGING NETTLES: also good for you once the tiny barbs are dealt wth. They also can be invasive, and take over a garden.
Stinging nettles thrive in high nitrogen soil. Planting heavy feeders that suck up nitrogen like brassica family plants may help keep them under control.
Curious what zone you live in or state. I planted last year in Iowa without much spread. They may have had too much shade, though.
Now, back home in Arizona Zone 9A, but we always had them in Pennsylvania (Zone 4A-5B. They’re native to the western Midwest, so shade might be a factor. Even here they prefer full sun. We get 112 in the shade, as well as stiff dry winds. People from Alaska to Mexico are raising them. stay healthy!
I ate about three small sunchoke roots, sliced thin and baked crisp with rosemary and salt. They were delicious, and accompanied a large salad for dinner. But I have been ill for almost a week now. Day one was nausea, gas, and diarrhea. I still have bloating, reflux and nausea. I will never eat another sunchoke!
If anyone has a suggestion of something soothing for me to eat or drink, please let me know! Roasted delicata squash was gentle, but I am still having reflux. I was fine before I ate the sunchokes.
Do you take probiotics? If not, it’s probably a good time to add some. You could try starting with some plain yogurt or kefir. Poached eggs have a history of use as convalescent food, if you can tolerate some protein.
Bone broth or veggie broth, chilled pureed vegetable based soups – all should go down easy.
Those who get bad gas from sun chokes, usually already have digestive issues they might not know they have, related to eating a “SAD” diet [standard American diet], and all the various chemicals we’re all exposed to, playing hob with our body’s processes.
They may have been told by their MD they have “GERD”–which is a SYMPTOM, not a disease of its own!
The MD usually RX’s ant-acid drugs, which cause more horrible harms in the long run, and were NEVER meant to be taken long-term.
The bad gas, bloating, is usually due to poorly digested food–in this case, sun chokes–which can produce LOTS of gas, because it is high in fibers, and, high in other elements that can cause gas.
ALSO…it’s in the prepping of them:
Sunchoke gas can be reduced a lot, by exposing them to being very chilled–like, nearly iced…then chop into small bits and cook a long time. Chilling, then long cooking, breaks down the stuff in them that causes so much gas.
Those we stored in the bottom veg bins of the fridge for several weeks, were far less gassy once cooked well.
General health POINTERS:
–> People who usually eat high-fiber diets, get far less gas from sun chokes, etc. “gassy” foods.
–> People who get plenty variety of prObiotics, have much less problems from gaseous foods, reflux, or infections of any kind.
–> People with enough digestive enzymes, have much less problems from reflux, gas, or infections.
So…very important to have plenty of fibrous food intake every day; plenty of good probiotics daily, and, make sure you have enough digestive enzymes in your system.
–> A simple, cheap test for adequate stomach acid: Eat 1/2 cup of cooked red beets [NO vinegar or sour on them…just plain cooked beets]. Then watch color of your urine for the next 24 hours. –> IF urine turns any shade of pink over the next 24 hours after eating the beets, it means, you need more hydrochloric acid in your stomach to help digest foods.
There are other digestive enzymes your system depends on, which also may be low.
–> drinking a cup of water about half hour before eating a meal, looking at the food, and smelling the aromas, ALL trigger the body to start making digestive enzymes…so, stop wolfing food, and start really enjoying it thoroughly, and prepping the body by drinking enough water ahead of eating.
Hydrochloric acid [betaine HCL] is readily available as a supplement, OR, you can take a couple Tblsp. of real ACV [apple cider vinegar with the culture floating in it], in a cup of water, just before you start eating a meal.
OFTEN, that is all it takes to stop reflux, and, stop gaseousness.
There should always be some acid in the stomach, to prevent bacteria growing in there, and, to kill pathogens of many kinds that can come in on food and drink.
MOST “GERD”, is lack of enough HCl, not too much; PLUS, eating foods your system cannot digest, &/or, an overgrowth of H.Pylori in the stomach.
When people eat stuff that triggers reflux, it means they have one or more of those conditions. they literally cannot digest their food they ate—the body will automatically try to off-load what you put into it, if it cannot digest it right….that means: puking it, or, fast-tracking it via diarrhea, out the back end.
It’s common for people to have sudden proliferation of H.Pylori bacteria in the stomach–most have some of that anyway. But when it suddenly starts over-growing [a number of things can cause that] , it triggers bad GERD, or can trigger morning sickness/hyperemesis gravidarum in pregnant women.
I’ve commonly used a strong amount of a broad-spectrum germicidal, such as 10 to 20 drops of GSE [Grapefruit Seed Extract], in a half-cup of water, with a packet of citrus-flavor EmergenC powder to lower how bitter it tastes. That kills-back the bacteria in the actual stomach, followed by taking, a few hours later, a strong dose of probiotics…that usually does it for months, or longer.
It sounds like you have some remediation work to do for your digestion!
A competent Naturopath can best guide you for your individual needs. Good luck!
Thank you for this detailed suggestion list.
Eating ginger always helped me with reflux.
Some terms to look up: SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
Dr. Nemechek and autonomic dysfunction on the web, YouTube and Facebook.
Acid Rebound. A term that’s fallen out of common use because it makes antacids look bad, not that they need any help in that regard!
Yup! All that.
Pharma has been aggressively reinventing Symptoms into Diseases, the better to invent more bandaid drugs. Both the PDR [drug book], and the Code book, have grown into multiple books each, all very thick, in only the last 40 or so years. Before that, the drug book was only a single volume. There have been far fewer new actual diseases named, than how many thousands of manmade drugs have been launched targeting Symptoms, not causes. What a Racket!
Lots of good info bit plenty I’m not familiar with either. I was prescribed stomach meds many times that didn’t do what they should and had extreme pain etc still. Once I stated eating some prunes for fiber and kombucha for its probiotic effects plus I love the sour flavor, I do not have those problems anymore. I and my partner both started eating a whole lot more beens and lentils etc and it has greatly helped how our tummy feels and potty time and all that. I can believe it takes a bit to get used to them but after it is fine. Some people have that problem with cabbage and Brussels or broccoli but I love them and can eat lots.
The comment should be removed, and if it isn’t, it should be ignored, for lack of sufficient knowledge, combined with erroneous statements like: “A simple, cheap test for adequate stomach acid: Eat 1/2 cup of cooked red beets [NO vinegar or sour on them…just plain cooked beets]. Then watch color of your urine for the next 24 hours. –> IF urine turns any shade of pink over the next 24 hours after eating the beets, it means, you need more hydrochloric acid in your stomach to help digest foods.” Eating beets will color anyone’s urine.
I’ve eaten an awful lot of beets over the years and not had pink pee. Darker stools, yes, but not pink pee.
Not saying that it’s a reliable test of stomach acid levels, but I’d be curious to see more information on the topic.
While I agree with several of your comments, some of what you say is not accurate. I have been on a vegan gluten-free diet for over 20 years. I have a tremendous amount of fiber in my diet, and I take good probiotics regularly. A friend gave me 10 lb of Jerusalem artichokes, and I spent some time grating them into salad, and cooking them a couple of different ways. I have been plagued with the worst gas I have ever had. I am not sure how my current diet could be any cleaner, I think that sunchokes don’t like me
I’m sure you don’t need to know now, but in case anyone else does: activated charcoal. Capsules are cheap and perfect for any tummy issues, food poisoning, etc.
You can also mix the powder into water and drink it. But drinking black, gritty water isn’t something most want to do. I did it once due to food poisoning though because it almost immediately stopped the symptoms.
I had planted some sunchokes several years back and eventually decided to use the area for an orchard. Dug up the area and started a few in a new area. Then I had the area rototilled to prepare it for its new use.
Well . . . . I obviously missed some. And every shred grew new plants the following year. And I dug up the horseradish plant too. Long deep roots. You can imagine what happened the following year.
I did find that squirrels, or other wild critters, dug up some to munch on.
Speaking of such things: Does anyone know how to get rid of the ground cover Lamium? Roundup or Crossbow will not phase it. Bought a jar of poison Ivy killer but after reading the label warnings I took it back to the store.
Can it be smothered? Mulch is usually my first go to for plant elimination, though some are much tougher than others.
Cattle, horses, and pigs love sunchokes. Pigs will root out every tuber they can sniff out. We have a designated bed for them and lose maybe 10% to ground squirrels. Even the dog will dig up tubers to eat. In the fall, Dad planted them on the forest side of corn fields. Deer liked them as much as they did the corn plants. when the fields were hogged out, cattle went after the tops before they did maize, and pigs plowed them out of the ground.
Use 20% concentrated vinegar with a little dish-washing detergent as a surfactant (some people also add salt). Buy vinegar at 20%, or higher and them dilute. Spray when there’s no chance of rain for a day or two. It works systemically, so kills down to the roots. Caution: be very *very* careful using this stuff (!!) 20% won’t hurt that much if you get it on your skin but it *will* take your skin off. Always wear gloves (preferably nitrile), long sleeves, don’t breathe in mist, consider a filter mask.
Google research before using. See also:
Thanks for the warning & the entertaining & helpful article! 👍😃👍
I love plants that are that easy to grow. I don’t worry about them getting
out of hand….I see them along the roads here in Southern California
in San Diego County. Tried growing once, but failed. But will try again
after reading about the “fartichokes”. 🤣
We planted these this summer, and I was just going to post my photos when I saw your article! They are growing fast and I cannot wait to see the beautiful flowers and hubby cannot wait to eat them =D
do they need full sun? i’ve got a shady spot that’s contained plus it would block the neighbor from spying on me.
They’ll do best in full sun, but will grow in partial shade.
Mine grow in a pretty shady spot and they are thriving just fine. I have to stay on top of digging them from the edge of their area but I wonder if they would be harder to contain in full sun.
I planted 4 tubers of sunchokes in ’98 in a partially shaded area in the back of my yard that was always a challenge to keep weeded. I had good harvests for several years, but after 2005 or so, they didn’t come back. I’ll try planting them again.
Please, Please, Please, don’t plant comfrey I rue the day that I planted that one innocent plant I shall never be rid of it! It has taken over much of my herb garden(only with constant weeding has it not devoured it) it has spread to other areas around my yard, a huge patch next to the shed, it is coming up in the marshy area in the back yard, it is coming up in my peonies, it has come up in the ditch out by the road . . . you get the drift. You can’t dig it out any miniscule speck of root grows a new plant & believe me they are hardy & they also reseed freely, JOY!
I had one (comfrey) come up in my yard , didn’t plant it. grew quite big before I knew what it was. I cut it down then used round up on it all summer,
Thought it was dead. Well two years later it’s back, ugh. Last year not a sign of it. So I am trying again.
Comfrey is useful medically, plus it’s a great bioaccumulator for the garden. You can make it into a tea (like compost tea) or apply the leaves and mulch. – https://commonsensehome.com/comfrey/
Comfy is a restorative to soils. It fixes nitrogen each time it is slashed. Try to dig it up and it will grow more. Till it at your peril. Chop it and drop the leaves for a mulch on your fruit trees and build the soil with it.
Get some chickens!! They annihilated mine in a matter of hours and I love them! Laurie and Rachel are so right, very good stuff. You can even make a bone knit serum out of the leaves and heal ulcers and broken bones. Amazing fertilizer – let the leaves soak in water for 4 week and spoon it into your tomatoes and potatoes (similar to potash). Till it in for green manure. Noted as having more protein than any other leaf structure know to the plant kingdom, makes it great fodder for all animals.
I would urge you NOT to feed your chickens comfrey in any quantity. It’s toxic and though it does a good many good things, if fed regularly to chickens they will begin to lose weight and feathers, get sickly and die long before they would without comfrey. Please study the literature before planting or using. If the roots are disturbed (broken or cut), just like potatoes and johnson grass, they will regrow more from each piece though cutting the leaves for soil building and other uses, including fodder for animals in small amounts, will not cause spreading.
Comfrey is toxic to animals and humans. It also has carcinogenic qualities where animals are concerned. The following clarifies this.
As I understand it, this “study” utilized massive amounts of comfrey – not a valid comparison to how comfrey is used and has been used for over 2000 years (as the abstract also notes).
My chickens free range and willingly eat it… But they won’t touch it unless they need it! I’m a firm believer that animals are smart and know when they need something!!
There are plenty of documented cases of wild animals traveling miles to access a particular mud or plant to treat illness, so why not domesticated animals with options, too?
I eat comfrey leaf pieces and the yummy purple flowers right from the plant throughout the season. The leaves are an acquired taste for sure. And if you are letting the leaves rot/ferment/age for use as fertilizer the odor will definitely get your attention.
I’d have to honestly say I’ve only experienced side effects from those “fartichokes”.
The toxic chemicals in comfrey are in the roots and according to all studies “possibly” in some small amount in the leaves. Testing the leaves for PA has never shown enough accumulation to be toxic to humans or other animals.
I love comfrey! It’s so beautiful…. just keep chopping and dropping to mulch and feed your garden… but yeah don’t plant it where you don’t want it or can’t control it
It is just a touch invasive. Good pollinator plant for predatory insects. Most adult predatory insects want pollen and nectar. And, to my misfortune, it doesn’t thrive in Arizona. Now, up in Penna, yep. Best place for it is along a pasture. Animals will keep it under control, and pigs will tear out the roots.
get roundup on your skin and it can give you cancer. get comfrey on your skin and it can build better ligament connections and strengthen your bones
Some discussion of possible Roundup/cancer link here – http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2016/05/does-monsanto-s-glyphosate-cause-cancer
More on comfrey at Comfrey Uses and Remedies.
The bulk of evidence appears to show that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. A quick look through Pubmed turns up many papers showing no carcinogenicity over multiple studies (here’s just one review published last year- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25716480). The lack of a plausible mechanism for carcinogenicity is also telling. Glyphosate affects a plant-specific pathway unrelated to any kind of human enzymes that affect genomic DNA that could lead to a cancer.
I’m envious of Laurie’s sunchokes though. The grasshoppers in northern Colorado this summer are severely affecting them as well as other garden veg. Maybe I can send some to anyone who wants their sunchokes under control 😉
From something I read, can’t remember the specific article, said there is a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for false advertising on Roundup packaging because of the claim that the enzyme it targets isn’t found in humans or animals. This article also states that up to 90% of wheat grown in the USA is treated with roundup 7-10 days before harvest. Something you might want to research.
WHO and CDC have bothy warned of roundup carcinogenic properties…so thyere’s that…..
Round Up you do not read the lawsuits for decades. Proof, studies are readily available online from USA Universities and Foreign 30 years articles have been published
If you believe Roundup (Glyphosate) to be safe, take a look at this video of a conversation between Toni Mitra, a concerned Canadian and a scientist, Anthony Samsel, co-author of a paper about how this substance alters DNA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C7E25lBCg4
YES! Thank you for listing that.
Glyphosate is not just cancer causing. The bad effects are long-lasting in the environment, MOST of the manmade chemical compounds have been deliberately designed to persist in the environs.
Also, Monsanto has coerced/fooled growers to apply it MULTIPLE times on food plants, “to help desiccate the seed heads off easier”….that means, there are at least TWO applications on grain foods, and those leave residues people are eating. GMO’d good plants are designed to REQUIRE using Glyphosate on them, and to prep the ground.
Glyphosate is a listed “antibiotic” because it literally kills all the good bacteria in the dirt…those bacteria are then missing from the foods that should have them in them, and, that is why GMO’d, glyphosate-prepped ground and foods, LACK most minerals…those plants get just barely enough basic fertilizers [also manmade] to grow cosmetically nice products, but which have been nutrient-deficient crops, for decades.
Once you start studying microbiology, anatomy, biology, etc., you start seeing how sub-clinical malnutrition is RAMPANT in world populations. People have been being fed nutritionally deficient produce, and massively less produce, for over 30 years. One can see the results walking around any street or shopping center….poorly formed skeletal systems, increases in diseases, etc.
As for the claimed “toxicity” of many herbs: The FDA and industries partnered back in the 1960’s, to publish false and misleading information designed to scare people away from using wild plants as food and medicines. Are some “toxic”. Sure…but, that is a very broad subject. SOME are labeled “toxic” because they have chemicals in them that kill cancers, or cure other ills. Some are labeled “toxic” because they have hallucinogenic properties best used in a supportive, guided situation by experienced guides. FDA partnered with State “noxious weed” departments, to make edible weeds and medicinals illegal to grow…like milkweed—which is a terrific food, and, is one of THE only planet sources that can save someone’s dying liver. Chaparral bushes, back in about the 1970’s, were literally scorched-earthed by officials, all over the SouthWestern USA, because people were starting then, to learn it could stop tumors from growing, by drinking a couple cups of that very bitter tea, daily.
Those who trust sites like PubMed, or MedScape, are buying into Pharma drug industries’ party line…the very ones that have been, for over 50 years, working consistently and aggressively, to wipe out herbs and foods people might grow and collect, and scare them from using them…even though people have been using them to their benefit for thousands of years, and, even though ancient references like the Vedic texts and the Bible clearly state “let plants be your food and medicine”.
Moderation and knowledge are key.
…ALSO…be very careful what you trust of “research”. It is a known fact that most research has been poorly designed, and, manipulated to get the results the funders desire. SOME is so cleverly manipulated, no one who didn’t work on it 1st-hand, would ever find out it had been faked. So, if some big industry claims research shows something is bad or good, you need to do some very careful vetting, to determine HOW the research was set up; HOW it was run; and, really read what was written, to see if that was actually used to write the opening synopsis of the research–often, what teh synopsis says, is not related to the study data at all.
I have planted Sunchoke as a privacy screen along my front fence, this is it’s 3rd year and it really hasn’t grown as well as I thought it would, it gets only about 5 feet high and has yet to have a single flower. I’m going to dig it up to harvest the roots for the first time in a week or so and will plant back into the space for the wall of green.
Also, I have Comfrey growing all over from an old timer’s big unused garden next door. It is a nice looking plant but I had a very large one growing in the middle of my lawn, I just kept mowing over it for 2 years and this year it did not grow back.
Interesting. What area are you in, and do you get enough rain? Mine are still growing like weeds, even where I just tossed discarded roots into the tall grass.
Noooo don’t put roundup on anything, especially such a beneficial plant like comfrey!! Please stop buying and using chemicals!
Comfrey BoK14 does not spread unless you dig the root cut it into some pieces and replant. leaves are a wonderful green manure/mulch and no flowers or roots/rhizomes.
Send me some comfrey!! I planted a couple two birds, they died, & I would love to have more as I feed them to my rabbits. [email protected]
Oh my gosh. Tubers. Not two birds.
lol – thanks for the giggle.
You cracked me up!
Sorry, but I have a few friends with auto spell check that makes the most enjoyable posts. That was a good one!!!
Yeah, I have a “smart phone” that I call a dumb phone that does the same thing to me all the time!
Comfrey is toxic. Only do it if you don’t like your rabbits. Liver damage. http://livertox.nih.gov/Comfrey.htm
David Hoffman, one of my favorite herbalists, has written a detailed article on this subject titled, “Is Comfrey Safe?”
(PAs = pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have been shown to pose a real risk of hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity))
Glad to see this information as I understood there was more that one variety of comfrey and one is apparently more beneficial and then one has greater toxicity. (Not sure however if the “more beneficial” variety is also the variety with “greater toxicity”). In any case thank you both for this info.
Thanks for that post quoting Hoffman, Laurie Neverman.
As a participant in a couple of Facebook plant-focused groups, it’s been my experience that people can be quick to latch onto a fear-promoting message about this or that plant, requiring no evidence whatsoever. It’s enough for someone to say, “But it’s been known to cause cancer yada yada yada and your fragile kids might stick it in their mouths yada yada booga wooga” and Bammo. Conversation over. Suddenly a dozen more will jump on the bandwagon, agreeing that they’d heard it was a bad egg, and the one or two voices of reason often appear lost in the morass.
I also deal with this regularly when introducing children to lawn and yard edibles. Some concerned citizen will come along and terrorize them if they’re seen eating yew ‘berries’, when the toxic seeds are usually spat-out and even if swallowed in quantity, pass quietly through the gut. Recently there was a scare about rhododendrons – completely ignoring the fact that every case of poisoning involved large quantities of so-called ‘mad honey’ and not a single case of a kid munching on leaves.
Excellent critique of the PA toxicity concern. Thanks again!
…And about those sunchokes… The tubers in your photo look like the one called ‘Stampede’ for its capacity to fully develop in short growing seasons… could it be that your experience would have been very different if you’d simply started a different strain? I know many people who grow them and eat them and not one considers their decision to plant them a mistake. I’ve only eaten round-ish ones like you have, and i agree about the grainy texture, although i think it works fine boiled and mashed.
Perhaps if you were able to reconcile yourself to selling the excess, you might learn to appreciate their vigor. After all it will not be permanent. No single species can dominate a patch of ground interminably. It is a law often forgotten. Fight them less and they’ll use-up their niche sooner. Whether you believe in God or not, the process of ecological succession is an orderly one and (ecological) Band-Aid plants–as i call them–don’t thrive forever, whether their origin is foreign or very local.
-A bit of oligosaccharin food for thought…
Hmmm… I didn’t think I sounded terribly alarmist, or that I hated sunchokes, only that they liked to take over garden beds, and other areas. As for selling them, I think that would be a tough sell in our area, where people don’t tend to take to quickly to new foods. Also, they are a hassle to harvest compared to many other crops. Best flavor comes after a light frost, and our falls are always busy scrambling to put the garden to bed and harvest and preserve everything before winter sets in. Spending hours on end grubbing for tiny tubers – well, it’s not on my list of favorite things. We’ve also gotten some sort of worms that moved in last year, so the roots I carefully dug and stashed last fall were only about half edible, since half the tuber was rotten and worm infested. They don’t hold well in the root cellar, and in the fridge they like to grow fur in the crisper drawer, so they’re really best eaten straight out of the ground. Perhaps if our patch was better managed, or we could rotate animals in to do clean up duty, we’d be better off. Like most plants in my garden, planted on purpose or volunteered, I keep experimenting year after year, in hopes that I will eventually find just the right use for our family.
Poisoning in animals is such a cruel death …
too much of anything is toxic….even water. Common sense….not so common i9t seems
After ten years of planting comfrey, I finally have two plants! They’re showing no sign of spreading, which I wouldn’t mind. It took them several years of babying to establish, but last year they were actually starting to look like comfrey instead of clusters of tiny dying leaves.
Horseradish also stays where it’s put, or has to this point. Sunchokes are still questionable. I have them in an isolated area (parkstrip) and planted them for the first time last year.
Location: Northern Utah, urban desert
Thanks for sharing your experience and location, Lauren. Plants sometimes behave differently in different areas.
I think comfrey must need a fair bit of water. The original plant I had didn’t spread for years. It was above a retaining wall in an area that didn’t get watered with a sprinkler often. The wall collapsed, the property owner refused to replace it. For years I hauled out dirt every spring and autumn until the slope of the ground was stable enough to quit falling. A few comfrey started. Now, there’s so much of it at the base of the bank I usually end up cutting it back when it flowers because it’s not far from the back door and there get to be too many bees. I’m in a semi-arid climate. There’s an underground spring or dampness that feeds it. The original plant from 35+ years ago never spread much at all but the ones below grow a good meter high on their own. If you want it to grow try putting it where it will get natural moisture. If there isn’t any, then I guess you’ll need to water it.
On the horseradish topic. I had it in a buried pot. I dug it up 3 years ago and used some of the root. I hadn’t given it much water and the root was quite dry. The tap root had pushed through the pot. (think I wrote about this earlier). I’ve given it a bit more water this time around and the leaves are huge – almost twice what they were when I dug it up. I had to cut some off because they were shading and covering the thyme. I read you can use the leaves in place of grape leaves for making crisp pickles. I think I’ll try it this; my pickles are never crisp. Does anyone know of this? I have no idea how much to add to the pickles. I don’t mind some heat but don’t want killer hot pickles.
I think you’re right about the comfrey and water. Ours is at the base of a retaining wall were it tends to stay very dry, and hasn’t spread much in years.
On the horseradish – try a leaf or leaf portion per jar. The currently recommended processing times will make any pickle recipe soft.
I have a “no can” pickle recipe that we use that I got from a neighbor that keeps them crisp. They are brined and refrigerated. It’s at https://commonsensehome.com/no-can-dill-pickles/
Comfrey is commonly used in permaculture as a chop and drop plant in fruit guilds. In some locations, it grows like a weed and spreads. But in other places, it is finicky, sickly and dies easily.
The better your soil, the more problems with invasive plants. In another location with mediocre soil, few plants become invasive because the soil just isn’t good enough to cause them to spread.
Where I am, even goldenrod doesn’t grow very well. Purslane doesn’t want to grow here. Not even cactus like it here. But buckbrush, sumac, winged elm, hickory and oak trees pop up everywhere.
So it is good to know what plants are invasive. But YMMV (your mileage may vary). Some things seems to be pretty invasive everywhere, like bermuda and mint.
Haha, take it as a compliments, comfrey loves good soil! Also improves soil 🙂 It also has gread medicinal properties, so my suggestion would be to make the best of it and use it!
I hear that there is a variety of comfrey that has sterile seeds. If you are careful to to plant only that one it will be a little easier to keep it from spreading too far.
Bocking 14 cultivar of Russian Comfrey…. Wonderful plant that doesnt spread. Very hardy and grows rapidly. We use it around our fruit trees, and for medicinal uses as well.
Great post about Comfrey ‘Bocking 14’ http://balkanecologyproject.blogspot.bg/2016/02/comfrey-believe-hype.html
Regarding comfrey spreading, what I have read is that there are two forms of comfrey, both with aggressive but different growth patterns. True Comfrey propagates by seed, so clipping the flower shoots at minimum or cutting it back several times a year and punctilious weeding of seedlings is a way to control spreading. The other form spreads by the root, so corralling it with a deep edging and further punctilious weeding are possible control measures. Clipping of foliage frequently will probably help to starve the plant into meekness.. Comfrey is a very beneficial plant for humans and livestock as well as making dynamite compost (if no seeds are included). I planted both forms this spring. The True Comfrey put up numerous seed shoots and the ripe seeds drop out easily, so I may regret not clipping them all back in spring #2. This is the one I planted near a baby crab apple as a guild plant. The rooting cultivar (Bocking 16, don’t know how it differs from #14) is planted where it can go a little wild and not do much harm. The soil there is gravelly, thought the planting hole got lots of good stuff, and I kept a wide, dense ring of mulch around it. It grew well, but did not spread beyond the mulch ring. I’ll keep an eye on it this spring, keep it cut back and pray it is not as invasive as blackberry.
Comfrey is highly recommended as an understory plant in orchards in The Holistic Orchard.
I’ve had the same experience with lemon balm. It’s everywhere, even in my lawn. You can’t kill it! Smells nice when you step on it, but totally invasive.
I let my lemon balm go to seed and have it everywhere now. Used to pull it and feed it to the chickens in bunches, then lost my chickens. Guess what came up thick besides wheat after they were gone. Yep. Lemon Balm.
And about J artichokes, please don’t go to some fancy exotic tuber company and pay ridiculous prices for a few tubers when you can do as I did. Bought a package at Safeway of a few tubers and stuck them in the ground. Years later, scads of them but they stay in the same area as planted for me. The patches get thicker when not harvested but mine are staying in bounds. I’d suggest a very large trough, pot or bath tub rather than planting them in the ground. Like potatoes, comfrey, johnson grass and most any tuber, ya plant em once and ya never hafta plant em again.
The inulin is an indigestible form of fiber and is the cause of their being called fartichokes. But that changes after the first frost or freeze. Inulin changes into sugars if I recall correctly or perhaps a digestible form of fiber removing the flatulence factor. I just had a few nice sized tubers that I yanked from the garden along with some freshly plucked fuyus for breakfast. The recent snow and freezing temps has really made both of them delicious.
if you think you have a hard time with the white version of these suntubers, try the more lithe red ones.. these type dive down 18-24 inches away from the mother plant about a foot, but even then as long as a person forks around the main plant and pulls as the lifting is down.. most will come up
i almost never have white volunteers with the loosening of the soil first . .
i’ve had 12 pounds in hand from one 10ft red which have a slightly different taste
so the technique to grow these, red or white and avoid the hassle of them becoming ‘weeds’ are in half barrels that can be tipped over mid november for their best condition and then stored in a box with some soil and a lid in the cold room or cover with thick mulch and get the things in march
in the fridge they do keep for a few months in sealed bags with dryish soil
also, they can be washed, grated and dried until crisp for turning into a powder with a clean coffee grinder that is rather sweet for adding to baking trials or even hot drinks
Thanks for the tips, Sean, especially the drying and using it for sweetening. I hadn’t heard of that before.
I am in the Antipodes and have thriving sunchokes/J.artichokes growing in two largish pots.
I just chopped up 3 or 4 of my friends tubers and planted them…they seem to like that. Looking forward to the sunflowers…..meanwhile the tomatoes in South Australia are looking great…..and the sun is shining…Hallelujah!
Also, cooking them longer does away with this side effect.
My dad had a bunch of lemon balm growing after it spread and took over much of the hearb garden it was in, he dug it out and tried to feed it to his goats. The goats didn’t care much at all for it, so they left it alone. the seeds that were on those plants germanated and now the area around the goat barn is getting over taken with lemon balm. I love to eat some of the leaves but it grows faster than you can possible consume it unless you drink lemon balm tea for every drink you have every day. Still it has wonderful health benifits.
I too have lemon balm taking over my yard! You can make a great pesto with it. Half lemon balm, half basil… or even all lemon balm! It’s nice added to meats, fish, salads etc too. Just adds a bit of lemony zing. Stick to the younger shoots. I found if hubby mows it down, it come back with nice young shoots all summer long. 🙂
Plus, it smells great when it’s mowed!
Heh. My neighbors across the street planted lemon balm under their mailbox in their median strip. Next year there was one growing in my median strip. The following year it popped up in the backyard as well as the front. We mow it, it smells nice. Now it’s all over the place. The ones in the flower beds stay until I have something else to plant there, then come out bodily. I use the leaves in smoothies. They are easier to deal with than other invasive plants I’ve had to deal with.
Lemon balm is a mint and just as invasive as any other type of mint??♀️
I had the opposite problem. I’m just outside Phoenix,AZ, and I planted it 4 times. It died every time. I’d really love to get some going for my animals.
Maybe in partial shade as part of a food forest? I’m assuming it’s a little too warm and dry there.
Ialso plant Maximillions, a sunflower type. The tubers reproduce greatly! I just got some sunchokes, can’t wait to plant them. I like extra food like this for my goats and alpaca. Would love to plant comfrey, just have never seen it anywhere. I live in the White mountains of arizona
Because of its reputation for spreading and the (IMO) spurious study of its effect on rats, it’s a little hHerbs, same herbalist owner, Richo Cheche) sells organic seeds and seedlings of True Comfrey and organic root cuttings of Bocking 16. Viability of Richo’s plants and seeds is very high. There is quite a bit of discussion about Bocking 14 Comfrey at the permies.com, including an occasional offer of roots from forum members. Alternately, you might be able to find a seed library or seed swap in your area or perhaps in a more urban community near you.
Same down here north of Tucson. Shade! Even then it’s iffy.
I harvest comfrey root heavily in the fall and infuse in oil. This oil is the base for comfrey salves. The leaves make great fertilizer. Grab a bucket, harvest a few leaves and place in the bucket with a weight on top of the leaves, Add water and let sit till the leaves turn black and break down in the water. Great for plants and a wonderful compost starter.
Super – thank you for sharing this info – great ideas.
Oops! I had the Comfrey explosion in my garden, too. Good news is that my chickens eat it when they’re feeling the need, and it provides the needed burst of energy to get the compost bin cooking. I also pick the leaves to make comfrey compresses that I put in the freezer for use on sore backs, sprained ankles and such. Oh well, the flowers are pretty, and I guess the rampant Borage needed a companion!
lol – my borage volunteers ALL over the garden. I planted it once, and haven’t had to plant it since. The bees love it, so I don’t mind. Our comfrey has been hanging out at the base of our retaining wall, but this season we’re going to transplant sections of it into the orchard, along with chives, mint and other companions. It’s going to be a free for all!
Comfrey is an excellent fertiliser! Take the leaves and put them in rainwater to soak and when the water smells poo like, it’s ready!! Has amazing benefits, is as good as or better then anything you’ll buy. If you have so much of it, make large batches and sell it at a local market perhaps or give it away ????
lol – only in the garden do we share comments like “when the water smells poo like, it’s ready”, and get excited about it. 🙂
There is a variety of comfrey that does not spread by seed. I think it is “Bocking 14” …. ? Google it.
me too! comfrey AND sunchokes EVERYwhere in my new homes yard.. iiieeee!
re comfrey …my chickens eat it, ALL the leaves and, it will not grow at all if they can get to it….it does get huge and covers a lot of ground around it, but has not spread unless I transplant some. It is THE one plants that has flowers full of bumble bees…which it why I want it to grow. Removing it from an area….that would be difficult because it grows from the root bits.
I sympathize with you, HOWEVER, after coming upon my first SunChokes in 1971, I have transplanted them three times to different locations and have not yet had a re occurrence in past locations. Perhaps my digs to transplant were overly aggressive. Yes, they can and do spread rather mysteriously as I recently found a new location a dozen feet from my protected grow area (of course I dig them out thoroughly but it does take a periodic dose of bad stuff to discourage their life efforts…bad I know!). I do enjoy them in salads and like the crispy taste. Mine grow to at least 10 feet tall and reproduce annually with gusto. Have never before heard the word COMFREY so if that is a more precise definition, them I am growing same. I welcome contrary views. D
Good news! To control the growth of comfrey, plant it under evergreens. The trees produce something that discourages other plants from setting seed, they suck up most of the moisture so nothing else gets enough and “mulch” the ground so heavily with needles nothing penetrates to the soil. Our comfrey is a holdover from previous owners and is too pernicious to give up even under those unfavorable conditions but it doesn’t exactly thrive (read: take over) and I have killed some of the plants under the trees when we first took over the property. Caution: It does WANT to survive and somehow has sent seeds ‘way to the back yard where it grows 4 feet tall!
Comfrey is a strong nitrogen fixer. Chop and drop the leaves any time to compost them right on site. Add leaves to your compost pile. Comfrey is a vigorous grower so just keep chopping it down and build readily accessible nitrogen.
probably why it is so good for healing. I only allow two plants by my veg garden. only two extra come up per year in the garden. I dig them out immediately.
I too made the mistake of planting Comfrey in my garden as an experimental herbal. Digging it out is the absolute worst way to try and get rid of it as any – and I do mean “any” – tiny fraction of tuber will freely sprout into a new plant.
The only method that I found to work is to cut the above ground part of the plant down to ground level and then cover the site with something opaque. I used a large flower pot set about 1” into the ground and weighted on top with bricks. It takes an entire growing season before the underground tubers exhaust themselves trying to grow a new plant. If you start in the Spring, then by the next season – 12 months later – you can remove the cover and regain that part of your bed. I was also successful using black weedblocking film and 4-6” of mulch for larger areas with smaller sprouts of Comfrey. You have to keep an eye out for any sprouts trying to pop through your defenses and do a quick pull and repair job.
Never again for that plant.
It may be that you have the type that spreads by seed. We made sure to plant the sterile comfrey and only in places we wanted it to grow. The sterile variety will slowly spread outward over the years but not invasively, only a few inches in width of crown over a period of a few years. If it ever gets wider than I like, I just dig out part of the root crown and give away or start somewhere else in my garden. I like growing them around the base of my fruit trees to help bring up nutriets from deep in the ground and also to use as mulch. Just like the other variety though, these will grow from the smallest root left in the ground so if you till them, you will have more than you ever want.
“Plant both at your own risk. Maybe next to each other, to see which one wins” Love it! Thanks for the warning. I just planted some mammoth sunflowers, hopefully I can keep those under control. 🙂
I’m still pulling up sunflower shoots, every spring and summer, from a patch I grew 5 years ago. Wonder if it’s a familial trait. Very hardy and very vigorous. Considering planting Sun chokes in an abandoned field near my home. Since they’re native plants, no-one will ever know, right!?
There you go! I haven’t planted sunflowers in years. I just thin out the volunteers.
Yes, I accept volunteers as well. I just plant other things around them. Sunflowers attract beneficial insects, butterflies, and goldfinches!
I am still growing sunflowers in that same garden space – a small bed around my mailbox, and I have not replanted them. They reseed themselves. I may try to dig up the bed, and plant some Jerusalem artichokes.
Four O’Clocks are some of the most persistent hard to kill plants I’ve ever dealt with.
Chickens love them we have them in there yards and they don’t last.
Yes! My chickens love them too. I give the girls the peelings of the sunchokes when I slice them for salads (soooo delicious and crunchy). They go crazy and all grab for those first before eating any other treats I may be giving them at the time!
I haven’t thought of growing sunchokes in their yard. Will they actually grow, or do the chickens just dig them up and eat up any green growth???
I’m not sure. Depending on the number of chickens, the amount of yard and how well established the sunchoke patch is, the sunchokes may be able to survive the “attention” of the chickens.
When we moved into our home there was a nice patch ( 4′ x 4′ )of an attractive tall growing plant that shielded our back patio nicely from view of the street and neighbor. The next year it was larger, and the third even larger…nearing 10′ in landspace. We called it the ‘bamboo’ because it looked somewhat similar in the stalk though the leaves were entirely different. I tried a couple of nurseries in hopes of discovering what this wonderful plant was, it grew so tall and quickly, birds would nest in it in summer and the chickadees loved it in winter.
Then I saw it in the backyard of a friend. She hated it. She said she liked it at first too when she moved in, but noticed that it doubled in size every year and so the 4th year she tried to exterminate it, but it kept coming back. This made me start to wonder. But still, I was unable to have someone correctly identify it for me, and my spouse was quite attached to it’s privacy features.
One spring I saw flyers in several nurseries warning about Buckthorn, a plant I was familiar with on property and wanted to get more info on. So I looked it up on the internet, was brought into our state’s DNR Invasive species plant website (something I recommend everyone to do now, to familiarize oneself. It’s amazing how many invasive plants are being sold in nurseries), and lo and behold, I discovered a picture of my mystery plant.
Edible, but will take over your yard, and can break up your sidewalk, driveway and yes…even your house and is more or less next to impossible to get rid of, a task that takes many years.
And here, my hubby was encouraging it’s growth for it’s wonderful neighbor-view blocking properties!
When it got to be over 20′ in landspace with shoots popping up in the yard 20′ away, he started listening to me. So we’ve been attempting to get rid of it, and it’s just sending shoots further and further out into our yard. We can only keep cutting them down and limiting it’s height with weed killer. Apparently just one little teeny sliver of a root is enough to get this thing going, and the roots spread underground up to 60 feet away.
The good thing that has come from this, it has decreased my frustration with the thistle problem we have. THAT is controllable compared to *this* thing.
(I did sauted up a batch of young stalks, like asparagus. It was fine, but my hatred for the plant now prevents me from considering it digestable)
Here in Washington State they are trying to eradicate knot weed, the department of ecology will do it for free here.
They asked all of us along the creek if they could check for it, and said they would remove it at no charge.
Check where you live and see if yours will.
I was told by a local beekeeper that Japanese knotweed was a great food source for his honeybees. Since they are in serious decline due to colony collapse disorder or pesticides or whatever else, it’s something to think about. Maybe removing it completely isn’t always a good idea. Just sayin’.
There is some good in almost everything.
Japanese Knotweed is one of the premier treatments for Lyme Disease. By the “Law of Signatures,” that makes sense. It tends to grow in Lyme endemic areas, and like Lyme, it is incredibly difficult to eradicate once it begins to take over. If you stop using Roundup, you might be able to sell it as a major cash crop to an herbalist. Resveratrol, the main component in grapes and red wine, is also present in Japanese Knotweed.
Look up how much resveratrol supplements cost these days, and you’ll see what I mean about cash crops. An ethical herbalist wouldn’t accept it all sprayed down with toxic chemicals, but you might be able to get an enterprising someone to harvest your yard for you on a regular basis and pay you for it. Worth consideration! Plus, you’d be helping to eradicate a much more destructive illness — Lyme Disease.
Best of luck to you,
Thought this was interesting. I didn’t know about the Lyme connection. We have tons of knotweed behind my also along the township’s walking trail. Send the herbalists my way please!
If you want to organically kill it, I would suggest using good old vinegar. Vinegar kills any plant. I use it to clear weeds from stone walkways and it’s much better than adding toxins to your property like Roundup. Roundup is sprayed on plants we eat and then slowly poisons us. (read about GMOs too.). I’d suggest cut the stalks of Knotweed you don’t want down to the ground then cover with vinegar. It’ll go into the spreading root system and kill it off. It works on the invasive bittersweet vine too, but realize if that’s climbing a tree, don’t pour it on the ground or you might kill the tree as well. Again, cut the vines (which can get very thick) and pour on the fresh cut.
Vinegar fail sot kill plants, UNLESS one uses the industrial strength vinegar [about 40% acidic]; which requires using protective gear.
We tried eradicating weeds and grasses one summer, using the regular home-use vinegar from Costco, even mixed in a bit of rock salt for good measure….weather had been dry and hot; the plants should have sucked it up and died….instead, they thrived. We could almost watch them perk-up and stretch to the sky again. Hardly any had wilted over after 48 hours.
But then, this is the Pacific NW; soils tend to encourage somewhat acid-loving plants.
Use 20% concentrated vinegar with a little dish-washing detergent as a surfactant (some people also add salt). Buy vinegar at 20%, or higher and then dilute. Spray when there’s no chance of rain for a day or two. It works systemically, so kills down to the roots. Caution: be very *very* careful using this stuff (!!) 20% won’t hurt that much if you get it on your skin but it *will* take your skin off. Always wear gloves (preferably nitrile), long sleeves, don’t breathe in mist, consider a filter mask & goggles. Google research before using. See also: https://bellechemical.com/concentrated-vinegar/ https://www.thespruce.com/vinegar-as-a-natural-weed-killer-2132943
10-15% is good for soft weeds, 20%+ for tougher plants.
Don’t chop or dig up Japanese Knotweed. Any piece, of root or upper plant, will regrow. The municipality here (West Vancouver, Canada), hires a private contractor to go around and do stem injection with Glyphosphate (Roundup, basically). Nasty but it is the only thing that will kill the plant AND not lead to more spreading.
Are you sure it is edible?
Earthdace – we don’t have it here, but a quick google search does verify edibility. Instructions for harvesting and eating below.
I planted a guara. It is drought tolerant, grows by runners much like the sunchoke, has lovely white and pink blooms in a meadow effect. It is night-blooming, VERY FRAGRANT, and WE ARE ALL ALLERGIC to it! It gives us horrid headaches, and it is right outside the front door, and when the door opens, the fragrance enters the house. It has plagued me for 17 years now! I have solarized, hacked it out completely, repeatedly, etc. Still comes back.
Cut it as close to the ground and try a chemical called Remedy. I’d paint it on the cut w/a small brush. It is used to kill trees. Wear gloves.
Hey! Thanks for the warning! Here in Australia the plant that’s giving me headaches is the Oyster plant (also known as Bear’s Breeches). It looks nice and shiny and big and has pretty purple flowers but their roots are long and tuberous and impossible to just “pull” out of the ground. They don’t respond to any form of weed killer. If you leave even a tiny bit of root in the ground (and you’re bound to, these things snap easily and are really, really long, and dense) it’ll come back as another plant. One small little shrub will grow into another bush, which roots itself along the ground and spreads fast. A plant can become several very quickly, and can take over the yard. They’re drought tolerant, frost resistant and aren’t daunted by full shade or full sun. The only way to rid yourself of them is to dig up the dirt – all of it, about a meter each side of the plant, and under – remove, discard somewhere SAFE (like the bin), and replace the soil in the garden. Or do what I’m doing, which is removing each peice of root I find when it sprouts. It’s not fun. I’ve heard quite a few americans in forums say “oh, but I’d love that plant, it’s so lovely!” – Listen to me. NO YOU DON’T. Trust me. This advice may save your garden.
It’s very easy to permanently get rid of oyster plant. Just cover it with a sheet of black plastic or a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper. It will die off completely in a couple of months.
Wow! My mom planted these once… she told me that they were called “faux sunflowers”. She planted a few in a flower bed right next to the side of her house, right in front of her dining room windows. They were very effective at blocking said windows from getting any kind of light! Anyway, that was 10 years ago and she is still pulling a few up every spring. Her “crop” was much smaller though probably because it was in a contained spot.
They sure are pretty!
I have heard that pigs like these and they are about the only thing to be able to find and dig them all up. If I get pigs in the future I may plant these to give them something to root for.
That’s exactly what our American Guinea Hogs did! Our Jerusalem Artichoke (picked up at a local organic farm stand) grew over 14′ tall and were a garden marvel that never went too far as we put our new piglets in the area as their first paddock. They made quick work of all the bulbs and we’ve never had one come back, we actually miss them! – How I ended up on this website!
We also found pigs are excellent to get rid of BUTTER CUP! Try getting rid of that in soggy, shady areas of WA state…Our goats and heritage breed sheep would have made quick work of them if they had been given access as they devoured what we had in another plot.
We also have mint and lemon balm that grow out of bounds quickly here. Our Egyptian spearmint has gotten 6′ tall in some areas but happily eaten (especially during summer heat) by all manner of livestock as it is not so strong as peppermints. Our Lemon balm we have taken out of garden beds (was a companion planting experiment) and now use it to line the driveway, planting and trimming it like a hedge- (Lemon Balm Lane)…Lemon balm is also extremely beneficial for your rabbits after they’ve kindled! Our does ALWAYS eat it then, just as our ewes would devour ivy after lambing! Comfrey, I give to anyone with a garden or animals, I have experienced many reasons why no homestead/farm should be without it! It was a valued fodder in times past and is quite high in protein. My only Warning: it is like Velcro with an Angora rabbit’s fiber!
*Another note, I think the valuable practice of herbal hedgerows really should be a more readily utilized addition to the benefit of all herbivores. Like it was mentioned above, animals know what they need and if you offer them a variety of herbs and give them ready access, at all times of the year, they will happily address any ills with the corresponding herbs long before we caretakers/husbandman may have been able to perceive a challenge.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Staci. I think adding herbs to homestead animals forage options is a great idea that should be more widely used.
Lemon Balm. The bane of my existence. The previous occupant of our home had a small garden last year. In one corner was a lemon balm plant. I left it there and it came back this spring. With a vengeance. I have since removed it from my garden because it was trying to overtake everything and it is happily thriving in my flower bed now. The garden, I fear, will never be the same. I have baby lemon balm sprouting up everywhere. Crowding out my veggies and even growing throughout the beams surrounding the garden. Anyone want some lemon balm? I have a never-ending supply!
Isn’t lemon balm in the mint family? Need I say more?!?!?! BUT you can rub the leaves on your skin to repel bugs. I actually tried to grow some this year in my veggie garden but it didn’t come up.
I’ve got lemon balm wandering all over the garden, but it doesn’t bother me much. I use handfuls of it (along with catnip) to mulch other plants to keep bunnies away. It is indeed a member of the mint family.
I know this is an old post, but I’ve had a lemon balm plant in my vegetable garden for years. While it does sprout runners, I just clip them back. In the spring before I put in transplants, I put a weed barrier cloth on the area around the lemon balm giving it about 4-5 inches of bare ground around the main base and pin down the cloth. It keeps contained without any problems.
I use lemon balm in place of 1/4 or 1/3 of the basil when I make pesto.
That sounds like a nice mix.
Lemon balm, me, too, me, too. So invasive. Spread all through my lawn, from its enclosed in ground pot. Yummy, though, but not yummy enough to need a whole lawn full of it.
We planted Lemon Balm around a boggy area – helps keep the mosquitoes away! (and yes it smells wonderful when we mow)
I have gotten to the point that lawn too expensive, always trying to keep it alive, in woods I have started growing herbs, lemon balm did over run my lavender but it is a great addition to wild yard, mowing does smell so good. Plus the ability to use something Non Chemical on my skin against fleas, mosquitoes, gnats…
Too many people jumping to kill things, instead end up with round up in their wells, food. I have fought round up for years but now it is in wine, beer, bread so keep using.
I love my kids too much, my water too much.
One day I hope that people will wake up to the fact that’s it’s a bad idea to grow our food with poison.
THANK YOU for letting us know! I was thinking of planting some….now I’ll find another plant.
Most gardeners already know that mint can be rather invasive. But it is one plant that I enjoy mowing and weeding because it smells so good!
Easy solution. PLANT IN A COUPLE OF CONTAINERS. The you have all that nutrition but under control. Why let plants control you, when it should be the other way around – good nutrition and valuable probiotics (sic.) are too valuable to dismiss. I only cut up a little for salads to give it crunch and a nutty taste so never eat them in great quantities to give me digestive issues. Just use common sense in planting and eating. End of story.
Sorry, I am referring to the sunchokes. If the containers get too bulging you can always break them apart and have new containers next year. Try the Youtube version of growing sunchokes, if you can listen through this guy’s 8 minute presentation.
I checked out the link, you are right about the presenter. I checked his video on kombucha just yesterday. It was an hour long, had good info but could really have been shorter or done in 2 parts.
That’s a great idea. But. We live in Texas, land of high heat, loads of intense sun, and infrequent rain during the summer. The plant police would likely arrest me for cruelty to plants if I ever attempt growing something in a pot again. Unless there is some defense for utter forgetfulness and oblivion. I have pots on my patio, right outside the back door, that I pass several times a day. And still forget to water. Since I’m currently wrestling spiteful bermuda grass, I shouldn’t add another invasive to our yard. Then again. ..if the sunchokes could choke out the grass…at least I’d be waging war against a pretty and edible plant!
I’m not in Texas, but I’ve pretty much given up on container growing because of our winds. They just wick the water out of everything. Both this summer and last, it’s been dry, and I can barely keep the garden beds wet enough to keep growing.
Have you considered a hugel pot? Bury some pieces of wood in the bottom. They absorb water and release it back. Look up hugelkultur. Same idea on small scale.
That’s interesting. I’d rather just plant in the ground, but for someone who needs to make it work, that’s a cool idea.
Oregano. We planted oregano, sage, & thyme about a foot apart from each other. The oregano spread, and we weren’t dilligent, so the thyme & sage lost & didn’t come back after a few years. We finally tilled the area, and I’m going to be dilligent in pulling out the oregano this time. There is even some oregano growing 6+ feet away in the pathway. I’ll leave a little of that, because we just mow the pathways down every so often and I can always choose to harvest a little oregano before we mow it.
Oregano is part of the mint family. So is it’s cousin, marjoram. The entire family are voracious spreaders.
Oregano has taken over my world.
Mine battles it out with the lemon balm in the center of the garden.
It sounds like sunchokes would be a perfect survival food &/or beginning plant for someone with poor soil &/or lack of growing experience…as long as they can mow them down if needed, right? 🙂
You can mow them, but they grow back, repeatedly.
I have heard that if they are left alone and get to the point where they can’t spread, they will crowd themselves out. We live on limestone. Every time we plant a tree or bush, we have to dig out rock. And gardening is easiest done with raised beds.
So I have my chokes in a raised bed. Something I have found, though, is that if the small birds don’t eat the tiny seeds that form on those tiny sunflowers, they will come up from the seed that scatters with the wind. I’ve had chokes come up in unusual places that could only be from the seed, either being scattered by wind, or deposited after going through the birds’ digestive system. Sorta like mulberry seed.
you can add catnip/catmint to the list. I find it everywhere on the property. Doesn’t really bother me though as it has not actually spread to our veggie or flower gardens.
Have you tried spraying the sunchokes with vinegar? Maybe you can kill them that way.
They’re coming up right next to my other seedlings, so I don’t want to do anything that might damage the other plants. I have catnip all over, too, but I like that – as do the cats. I use it for mulching new seedlings to keep the bunnies away.
Oh my! Oh my! I planted chuffa seeds in pots (as I had read that they were incredibly invasive,) and after reading the comments and looking at my pots I am praying that they don’t some how escape! We have at least 6 acres that is tilled ground with out anything planted on it! I would have a chuffa invasion for sure! I planted them in hopes of finding a healthy snack for my husband who is diabetic!
Don’t worry – if it escapes onto your acreage then the wildlife will take care of it – a lot of farmers plant chuffa in their deer food plots and apparently they always have to replant! I think turkeys like it too if I remember right.
I am amazed. I still have the very same ONE row that I originally planted several years ago???? It is in the back of my garden and I love it . LOL Maybe mine behaves because our place is so hard to grow a LOT of things??? Too many walnuts trees!
EIGHT years ago we built a little house in the woods and ran out of money for landscaping. Some nice person gave me free Yarrow. “Deer won’t eat it” they said. It has now taken over parts of my yard. Do not ever plant yarrow or snow on the mountain no matter how much money you do not have….agh! Have Mercy!
Sometimes you just have to reach for the herbicide because nothing else works.
An active glyphosate (Roundup is most common) *should* do the trick since they are systemic. Try to avoid ones made in China as they are often weaker mixes than they claim.
I would mix more concentrated than the directions say, especially if you have hard water. One or two applications should do the trick if there are no seeds waiting to re-establish the plant.
Wait at least a month between applications and don’t worry if you don’t have immediate results overnight as it takes days to work.
If you don’t want to use chemicals that’s fine. Just be prepared to deal with that plant in your garden forever.
I’ll take the sunshokes over the glyphosate any day. I never want that stuff to come anywhere near my garden – http://www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/may10/consequenceso_widespread_glyphosate_use.php
I had to laugh at your so serious concern with your lack of ‘control’ of this wonderful plant, as we had 200 acres of Sunroot (Helianthus tuberosus, or Jerusalem Artichoke), back when we were also ignorant of their true beauty, and fought them as a weed in our corn and soybean fields.
Eventually, our animals, an older and wiser retired farmer, and a study of how the Native Americans used Sunroot, taught us what a fantastically productive and nutritious crop that Sunroot truly is, and we planted acres of them, instead of fighting them.
All animals benefit in health by consuming them. No one gets gas from them, if they have the right beneficial gut flora, so, if you want to avoid any possibility of gas, eat your first one straight out of the dirt, unwashed, when you are digging them, as the dirt around the tubers attracts all of the necessary pro-biotic bacteria needed to digest them. They are truly a miracle of excellent nutrition, and the ‘ultimate survival food’, which virtually single-handedly kept the Northern Hemisphere from starvation, during the Maunder Minimum and the Dalton Minimum of the “Little Ice Age”.
We should all be planting more of them, right now, because we are heading into another “Solar Minimum”, right on schedule, again.
It is a very special and peculiar plant, but, once you understand the plant, it is a pure joy to grow, to eat, and easy to control.
First, plant only one variety of ‘true Sunroot’, within any one isolated area, because they form no viable seed that birds can spread. Two true Sunroot cultivars planted, side by side, if they a far enough unrelated, may cross-pollinate to create viable seed, reportedly, tho’ I have never seen it happen in my experience and we had three very disparate varieties planted side by side, for years.
Real “Sunchokes” are not just another Sunroot, but are a commercial cultivar, hybrid of Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and Sunroot (Helianthus tuberosus), and they do form viable seeds, which birds will spread. These “Sunchokes” have their place, but they can be very hard on neighborly relations, so I rarely advise their use.
Plant them in well-manured deeply-tilled raised beds, hills, or ridges, no closer than 14- 15″ apart, 18″ is preferable, for largest tuber production. In 36″ rows that is 10,000 plants per acre, or, in 4′ raised beds, on a diamond pattern, in 4 – 15″ rows, it is 20,000 plant/A.
A tuber or ‘eye’ of less than 1/4 ounce is sufficient, in damp soil, but drier soil requires larger pieces, to insure proper germination and your desired population. It takes at least 220 pounds of carefully hand-cut tubers to make a 10,000 population (330#@1/2oz. pieces is most advisable), in damp soil, and up to 4000#, if you plant the largest whole tubers, in drier ground. You may want to use a 24″ spacing, if you plant whole tubers, as EVERY ‘EYE’ WILL PRODUCE A STALK!!!
Never fail to dig Sunroot every year, and attempt to get every tuber, no matter how small, or they will come back too thick, otherwise, as even the pieces of roots will produce a plant, no “eye” is necessary!
Only dessication or molding (primarily sclerotinia) of the ‘heart’ can kill the ‘germination’.
So, any piece of heart with a small amount of ‘pulp’ around it, or any piece of root 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ long, depending on soil moisture, will create another plant.
So, never use a disc or any other type of harrow on them, as it will only break them in pieces and double or triple your population.
You will never kill them by digging them, as they only come back better than ever from the lack of their own competition and the aeration of their soil!
Anywhere that the brace roots break off the end of the tuber, another plant will come up, no tubers are necessary to have a productive population.
Only pigs can smell, dig and eat every piece of root large enough to germinate. You will never see such healthy pigs, or taste such delicious pork, as those fed on Sunroot.
Chickens can kill them, by continually eating the tops, right after their emergence from the soil. So, let chickens forage in Sunroot only after they are taller than the chickens, so they only work on the lower sun leaves, rather than the new cotelydons. This also gives your free-range chickens spectacular cover against raptor predation!
If you wish to rotate Sunroot acreage out of production, for the next season, you can cut silage, long before the killing frost, then sow rye, and the next spring pasture cattle on that ground, when the Sunroot plants are 10″ to 15″ tall. The cattle will prefer the Sunroot, and eat them right down to the ground, when they are at this weakest stage, they will not grow back.
You may cut the Sunroot for hay or green chop, to feed animals, after they are 2-3′ tall, depending upon variety, or let cattle graze on them, rotationally, up to when they bloom, then, let them alone, until after a hard killing frost.
However, if you want to kill Sunroot, yet, have no livestock to kill them, turn them under as a green manure crop, with a moldboard plow, at 10′ to 15″ tall, when they have spent the energy of the seed tuber, but have yet to start forming any new tubers.
It is usually best to follow Sunroot a short-season grass, like corn, instead of any bean, which may also be susceptible to sclerotinia (white mold).
No animal turns its nose up at Sunroot, but no animal loves the “earth apple’ more than horses, which react to them like candy, especially after they have been cooled or frozen, as the cold breaks some of the inulin down into fruit sugar.
Larry M. Aden, [email protected], Cell: 712-660-3949, Nemaha, Iowa 50567
Great comment, Larry. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. One of my favorite parts of blogging is meeting people with more experience than I have that I can learn from.
Awesome response! 🙂
What a fantastic comment! Thank you.
Thank you I came here by accident as I wanted to know more about tubers I planted over 15 years ago. Never saw them til last year and now…well I will take it one year at a time Lemon Balm I love the aroma, holistic value but …I am going to try your suggestion and move towards road as I did some Sunners and let them enjoy themselves… Have great week Thanks for all the feedback
Let me guess, you have no background in farming. Well, I grew up in a farming family so I have some first hand experience on the subject. My father was also an agronomist technician for a major university and conducted experiments with herbicides including glyphosates. I currently have many friends and family in agriculture. I also have some first hand experience with university “research” groups from when I was in college.
Now, where do I begin with what is wrong on that page…
The research that page is based on, focuses on “heavy use” in agriculture, which is year after year after year, not just once or twice as in your application and the quoted researcher DH, conveniently leaves some omissions out of his statements and makes some misleading statements as well.
Any time you plant the same crop in the same location year after year, you have an increased risk of fungal infection whether you use herbicide or not.
That’s why farmers have to rotate crops and why you should alter the arrangement of your garden. It prevents carry over of plant diseases.
The researcher fails to mention the rise in fungal infection rates could be due to farmers planting the same crops on the same land repeatedly to take advantage of high crop prices and/or to maximize the use of their irrigated land. The key omission here is that under the given conditions, an increase in fungal infection would happen even without the use of glyphosate. The research mentioned completely fails to acknowledge this as a potential factor. Until glyphosate came along, it wasn’t possible to kill “volunteer” crops or weeds and then replant with the same crop so quickly. Glyphosate will kill the host “volunteer” plants that carry the fungus, but it does not kill the residual fungus in the soil that will still be there when the farmer plants the same crop a few days after applying glyphosate. And irrigating the soil may allow the fungus to survive longer even if you plant something resistant to the fungus before replanting with the previous crop. Basically, summer fallow and tillage to eliminate weeds used to give the fungus time to die off before the farmer re-planted, but the rise in no-till farming has led to the eliminated those steps.
The impact on animals is definitely a potential problem, however, if you read his comments carefully, you will see he makes no mention of the toxicity of glyphosate itself on the animals. In fact, the toxicity DH mentions is NOT due to glyphosate toxins at all, it is fungal toxins. These toxins have been known to cause these effects in animals for centuries and such toxicity occurred long before glyphosate existed. Another convenient omission on his part and he was very careful to mislead you as to the cause.
The potential accumulation of glyphosate in the soil and damage to future cops is important. What DH doesn’t directly mention is accumulation is caused by use year after year or even use of large amounts multiple times in a single year. Glyphosate bonds with calcium and other minerals in the soil. If those are not replaced along with the repeated use, they eventually become depleted and some glyphosate could remain active in the soil to damage future crops, or crops could be depleted of nutrients. DH appears to ignore the fact that when farmers add calcium, manganese and other minerals back to the soil with their fertilizer, the residual and accumulative impact on soil and potential health effects depleting minerals can cause, do not exist. One of the most basic rules of farming is what you take out of the soil, you have to replace. The research also fails to mention that wheat, corn, and many other plants planted in the same ground repeatedly will deplete the nutrients all by themselves anyway even without glyphosate use. That compounds the problems caused by not rotating crops. Not only do you risk exposing the plants to the fungus by not rotating crops, you make them more vulnerable to it and glyphosate isn’t even required for this to happen. DH never addresses whether the farmers in question had their soil analyzed and replaced minerals as they were depleted. Most likely, they tried to stretch out the number of plantings between having fertilizer applied or didn’t have the soil analyzed so they could apply the proper minerals with the fertilizer they used. Soil analysis and proper fertilization has been around longer that I have. The fact that DH fails to mention any of this is beyond me… unless he has some reason not omit the information.
You will notice that DH doesn’t call for a ban of glyphosate. If he finds glyphosate directly toxic, a ban is in order and his research doesn’t need to continue. He didn’t do that, he calls for “judicious use”. If he finds glyphosate safe, there is no need to conduct more research. He didn’t do that either. He said “There are a lot of serious questions about the impacts of glyphosate that we need answers for in order to continue using this technology. I don’t believe we can ignore these questions any more if we want to ensure a safe, sustainable food supply and abundant crop production.” He is clearly more interested in keeping the controversy going so he can extend his 20+ years of research further. At $100,000+ per year on his grant money for 20 years that comes to at least a couple million dollars in his pocket at the taxpayer’s expense… and counting. Odds are he made even more than that by listing himself as a full time head researcher on multiple grants during that period of time. After what I witnessed in college I will never trust one of these researchers again, especially one that makes omissions and misleads people into making assumptions that are not true. Especially when he advocates “further research” which he himself will benefit from greatly.
Using glyphosate on a few plants once or twice will have none of the long term effects mentioned and certainly qualifies as “judicious use”. You are spraying directly on the plants and not on the surrounding soil as you would in commercial agriculture. You will remove the plants once they are dead instead of working them into the ground, unlike commercial agriculture. Any trace amounts of glyphosate that get on the soil or in the soil through the roots should easily become inert without depleting the soil by a measurable amount. Throw on some bone meal and compost if you are worried, it certainly couldn’t hurt what you grow there in the future.
James – let me guess, you didn’t take the time or courtesy to look at my bio page before launching into your lecture?
I was raised on a dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin. A small farm, to be sure, but a healthy one. The cows were on pasture during warm weather, and we raised most of their food (and our food). My brother and I spent many long hours in the the fields and ponds, catching frogs. It used to be one of our favorite pastimes. Maybe you’ve noticed that frog populations have been devastated in recent years? Glyphosate is toxic to frogs, and I have a number of frogs and toads in my garden working pest control, so thanks, but no thanks, I’ll skip the RoundUp.
Maybe you’ll like these links better, since you have a beef with Dr. Huber – http://www.savethefrogs.com/actions/pesticides/index.html
Check out these deformed leopard frogs – http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/living-green/living-green-citizen/for-kids/deformed-frogs/photographs-of-deformed-frogs.html?menuid=&redirect=1
As for Dr. Huber’s “lies of omission”, I may be mistaken, but I personally figured that much of what you mention is simple land stewardship that any farmer or gardener should know, and doesn’t necessarily need to be spelled out.
RoundUp and other chemical inputs, from my perspective, encourage the use of poor land stewardship, because rather than addressing underlying nutrient deficiencies in the soil with long term solutions, the farmer is encouraged to simply treat the plant with chemical XYZ. If this was not the case, then we should be gaining instead of losing fertility in our soils, which last time I checked, wasn’t happening.
It’s already well established that the extended use of glyphosate produces weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, which it turn has led to the development of even stronger weed killers, perpetuating the farmer’s dependence on the chemical company. My sunchokes are a nuisance, not something I feel I need to eliminate at any cost.
I really can’t imagine that the DH qualifies for nearly as many grants as those who support the heavy use of GMOs, herbicides and pesticides. Monsanto et al have a lot of money backing up their interests. More than once they’ve effectively shut up those who were in open opposition. Is it wrong that DH wants to save his job and his own *ss by speaking cautiously?
BTW, I was in college, too, even managed to get a couple fancy pieces of paper to prove it. Quite well aware of the games that are played to keep grant money flowing in the door.
I choose not to use glyphosate, even though the risks may be minimal, because I don’t like the system that it is a part of and I’d like to keep my frogs.
Well Said! I completely agree with you. To hell with the system AND the chemicals!
Wow, James is a pretentious chap, eh? Thanks for the info on sunchokes. I have a small garden in my city yard and I certainly can’t afford to have it overrun by any single plant. To the farmers market I go! 🙂
That’s one way to put it. One can disagree without being disagreeable, but some people ignore that courtesy. As for the sunchokes, at least I know we’ve got a back up food stash. 🙂
I noticed that you use frogs in pest control…I do too. I even quit eating frog legs because of my high respect for their abilities…I mean they give me countless hours to do anything I want ..just leave the bug eradication to them…..all was fine in my garden until I noticed those dad gum stink bugs….where were the frogs? They left me with not so much as a ‘good bye ‘ letter!Well I will have to go back to the drawing board on that one. Even the lizards left….they were such good playmates for my cats…lol
Oh….the reason for my presence here was information on sunchokes…I gotta get me some. I am a diabetic and also a chemical free gardener. Sunchokes are on my list for next summer. I take it then that because of their apparent HARDINESS I won’t have to care for them much. GOOD DEAL!. …and a hardy thanks ma’am!
They should be very durable and low maintenance. 🙂
There might be some concern about use of fructose for diabetics.
We [medical office] used to promote use of fructose for diabetics, as a safer alternative to sugar, in the 1990’s, when food industries started promoting it.
It came in a familiar white granulated form, was very sweet, and offered some hope of sweetness to those who had cut sugar from their diets. It baked the same as sugar in recipes, too.
It turned out fructose is a Problem for diabetics, on multiple concerns [turns to fat at greater rate; further messes with metabolism; can increase need for more drugs to mitigate it being in the system, etc.].
HIGH fructose is a problem for everyone.
When Agave Syrup came along, people thought the holy grail of sweetening agents had been found…it hadn’t. Agave has more fructose than High Fructose Corn Syrup!
Yes, Fructose acts slow in the body….but…as I understood it, diabetics commonly have somewhat compromised liver function [even with “normal” lab values, can have fatty liver], and, may be carrying too much body fat.
This metabolic imbalance can cause the fructose to be stored as more fat, instead of being slowly burned as fuel.
Now days, it’s being discovered [again], that ketogenic diets actually help reverse or decrease diabetic issues, far faster and better than messing with sugars and carbs.
I remember the push for fructose – and then doing more research and finding out that it’s no miracle sweetener, as you’ve noted.
It’s not the frogs’ fault – stinkbugs may be toxic to them. See “What Type of Insects Should Frogs Eat?“. You can get stink big traps that may help keep them under control.
Have there been any other changes in your environment lately? Usually if frogs are scarce, something has changed to drive them away.
Bravo! Great rebuttal. I too have experience with “agri-business institutions of higher learning” and their partners, the chemical companies. We are in danger of losing our “common sense” when we too readily accept the “quick and easy” or “new” cures for minor woes, like invasive plants. Don’t want it there?… keep it cut!… use a lawn mower to take the shoots right down to the ground level…prune off the re-growth. It’s war..and you can win if you’re not lazy! If the plant is useful…(as you advised), USE it. If you don’t want to use it…find someone who will!
I’ve enjoyed reading this page. I came upon it via google after buying some of the tubers at a grocer. I’m in climate zone 3-4 … that alone may make it easier for me to control…but I think I shall try it in a planter first. I have a few acres so it won’t be a big deal if it decided to settle in.
As Larry Alden points out, the plant can be quite the boom in managed properly. I wouldn’t put it right in my main garden, but I’m perfectly happy to let some of it naturalize. I’m learning more and more about the medicinal and soil healing qualities of many plants that are considered weeds and invasives, like the autumnberry bushes we’ve been having a neighbor cut down for years. It turns out the berries are super high in lycopene, basically making them a superfruit. They’re tasty, too. The fruits are small and have big seeds, so they’re best processed into a puree and then used for something like fruit leather or autumnberry-apple jam. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds talks about 13 wild plants that are found almost everywhere that are useful for food, medicine and healing the earth.
Please check out article in “Entropy” 2013, 15, Pgs. 1416-1463 titled: “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” It explains how glyphosate kills the probiotics in our guts, and link this with information from books such as ” The Gut and Psychology Syndrome” or “Brain Maker,” and you’ll quickly see the reason for the rising tide of inflammatory diseases including autism, diabetes, alzheimers, MS, etc… then learn about high brix farming through ACRESUSA.com
I love Acres USA!
I wouldn’t discount the shortcomings of university ag research; in a Journal of Higher Education article a friend posted on Facebook it was pointed out that ag research publications are the worst research periodicals science offers because they do not require that the authors disclose whether or not they received funding from stakeholder(s) in the outcome or not. There was an extensive article using ractopamine (sp?), which I believe is marketed as Paylean, a growth promoter for livestock that causes fat to turn to muscle. The researcher was actively promoting the product to farmers while on university payroll and writing articles about it without disclosure.
We lost about 1 billion Monarchs in past 4 years due to round up etc. We thought we won battles but Monsanto and others got bored poisoning other Nations…started lobbying since Bush. If it can kill that many Butterflies it can harm all life. Creators gave us herbs for a reason.
Have great week….
Italian Arum! The previous owners planted it in the flower beds and it is unstoppable! It grows everywhere. It’s spreading into the lawn. It has teeny, tiny bulbs and you can never find all of them. My husband is done playing nice. There is one main area that it is spreading out from. We are considering covering it over with a tarp for several months.
We plant sunchokes along our back fence to block us from the view of the neighbor’s dogs. They bark incessantly when they see us; the pretty sunchoke “privacy fence” helps to keep them quiet. We have eaten them fried (like potatoes) and made into a pureed soup (again, like potatoes); husband and I liked them both ways and plan to try other ways. They are spreading a little, but it doesn’t seem to be problematic (yet).
As for gas, it did cause some, but nothing painful like you described. I have heard them nicknamed “fartichokes”…guess there’s a reason for that.
I didn’t have a problem with the sunshokes until I tried to remove them. In a spot where they were in their own area, they might be okay. With the gas, I hadn’t eaten many of them before, and I wasn’t yet eating live culture foods, and I ate a *whole* lot in one sitting. Very bad combination.
Roasted in the oven! Just add a bit of oil and salt, Yum! But I’ve learned not to indulge before attending a public function, because “fartichoke” is an apt moniker! And that’s speaking as one who eats a lot of beans.
I haven’t yet harvested from the single grocery store tuber I planted this year, but it sounds like like the time is right. Maybe I’ll try that raw-with-some-dirt-on trick to stoke my gut before I cook them! Interesting idea.
Maybe you could check out the web site http://www.gardensalive.com They might be able to help you get rid of the sunchocks WITHOUT heavy chemical use.
Rachelle – I’m reluctant to buy from Gardens Alive anymore (I have used them in the past) because I found out that they are linked to Seminas/Monsanto – http://www.garden-of-eatin.com/how-to-avoid-monsanto/
I’m sure that over time I will be able to get them under control – they’re not nearly as bad as some plants – I just wish I had known to put them in their own spot instead of in a garden bed.
Wow. I didn’t know about the Gardens Alive link to Monsanto. I will no longer go to them! Thanks for the information!
It’s very frustrating how a few companies control most of the market.
Orange Trumpet Vine! I planted it in front of a wall with a pretty wrought-iron trellis in a small planting area near my front door. It grew like MAD attaching itself to my siding and even slipping up under it. I had to cut it back all the time and the darn thing never flowered ONCE. I finally pulled it out after a couple of years and planted some climbing roses. The darn thing keeps growing back! It even traveled under a concrete sidewalk to a larger planting bed. My husband thinks it’s hilarious. Now I’ve decided that I don’t like the climbing roses there either. I should have planted a rose bush, not climbers!
Friends or ours had trumpet vine, and that thing spread everywhere! Like you said, under the sidewalk, up the house – not an easy to manage plant.
We’ve had the same problem with english ivy around our house that the previous owner had planted. What would be a good replacement in a hot climate that is edible and not as invasive (vines don’t dig into siding)?
If a vine is strong enough to climb on its own, it’s going to be strong enough to dig into your siding. That’s how they climb. You may be able to place a trellis next to the house and train plants onto that instead to protect the house. I’d check with your local cooperative extension office for plant suggestions, as they should be able to help you identify species that would work best in your area.
We have a trumpet vine, planted by the previous owner which only grew in a heavily shaded area in the back yard. I have noticed a plant growing (for at least 10yrs) about 15-20 feet from it which a friend recently identified as trumpet vine. I would just dig it up and throw it in the trash. I had no idea it could sprout so far. Luckily this is the only spot I’ve seen it.
I did plant a passion flower vine and have seen it cropping up in several places, and have started to be concerned about its capability to be invasive. I harvest the flowers and leaves for a bedtime tea,so I have just dug up the shoots and tossed them. Butterflies and bees love the plant, so I don’t see myself getting rid of it!
I’ve got an assortment of herbs and flowers that volunteer everywhere, which I’m sure would drive many people nuts, but I love how they are always humming with pollinators. I just do some extra pulling when they get too crazy.
I didn’t know you could use them for tea. I love all kinds of tea and tisanes. I’ll have to try that next year. The single maypop a friend gave me some years ago is nice on the split rail fence, but it’s crept into my pathway, and I was just pulling them out. Eat the leaves, enjoy the flowers on the fence. – sounds like a plan!
In the arid mountains of southern AZ, I’m trying to keep my sunchokes alive. I’ve planted them in an 8′ X 8′ area taken over by Maximillian daisies, one of their relatives with less palatable tubers and stems. The Maximillians have an accomplice — Creeping St Johnswort. I’m letting them duke it out, but give the sunchokes a little help by occasionally ripping out a few of the other daisies and St Johnswort. I’m rooting ( bad pun) for the Sunchokes, but only time will tell.
As for my other least favorite invasives, pennyroyal was a huge mistake to plant. It turned out not to be a good medicinal herb and it was worse than mint at taking over a large area. The problem was made worse because it looks like oregano — you need to crush and smell to tell it apart before yanking it out in handfuls. We also bought ‘straw’ for mulch one year. It was apparently made of foxtail barley with a few oat stems for show– it took us almost 10 years to eradicate it from out yard. The sharp hulls penetrate everything, including your dog’s feet, ears, etc. Several expensive vet bills added to the misery.
I’ve never heard of Foxtail barley, and from the sound of it, that’s a good thing. Poor dog!
Good to know about the sunchokes, and I read this at just the right time. I have fond memories of my mom’s patch of sunchokes in the 50s and 60s, and it helped keep our family of eleven fed at the time. So I was actually considering a patch – until I read your post. Thank you!
Avoid Pampas Grass. It’s been declared a pest by New Zealand, and Hawaii has it on its Noxious Plant list.
Great to find your site. I’ll be adding you to my Community links (blogroll) page in the Advice section and will contact you asap for an appropriate image for the link display.
Sunchokes would be perfect for a family of eleven. I think under the right conditions they are okay (where they can be mowed around, and will be eaten in quantity) – I just would never plant them in a standard garden bed.
Thanks for the note on the Pampas grass, and the invitation to your site.
I posted earlier about planting chuffa. Just wanted to let you know how they turned out. We harvested them and washed them repeatedly and are snacking on them through thhis winter. They taste kind of like fresh coconut. Just a touch sweet and a bit nutty. Will plant again. Purchased the seed from Baker’s Creek heirloom seeds. Love that place!Your boys might like harvesting them. But plant them in good soil and in containers!
On a new note, do you think sunchockes would do ok in fifty gallon barrels cut in half? A friend gave me some and I do like them. But we have LOTS of winds where we live. I don’t want them speading all over
Enjoy your web site very much. I have a lot to learn and have learned a lot from your site. Thanks for the great work you do. I know it takes a lot of your time to share with us all that you do.
I think they’d do fine in fifty gallon barrels – or just about anywhere else. 🙂
Glad to hear that the chuffa worked out well.
New here! Found you while googling, “Can sunchokes be used as animal feed.”
Thanks for the article and the link for where to purchase. My husband and I have a small farm in Olympia, Washington. We have zero farming background though so I rely a lot on great posts like this! We’re trying to grow all our animal’s feed and I think sunchokes would work nicely…I originally thought just for our pigs, chickens and ducks but now I’m reading that the goats and sheep will eat the tops…
Do you know, when should I put this plant in? There seems to be a lot of information about harvesting but not so much about when to plant? Would appreciate your thoughts! Thank you again!
I planted mine in spring, but I threw discards into the weeds in early spring, summer and fall, without planting – and those all grew new plants. I’m guessing any time the ground isn’t frozen would work.
Not a plant that would cause too much consternation, I think, but here in Ohio I planted Morning Glories around our shed to “pretty up” the view. Those babies live EVERYWHERE now. They invaded our beans this year, which I wasn’t too happy about. At the time we planted them, someone told me not to because they were a native wild plant and would grow like crazy. I’ve never checked that claim, but they definitely grow like crazy. Pulling them out of the ground in fall makes no difference!
At least they’re not kudzu. 😉
At least kudzu is edible.
And reasonably nutritious. I hope they are successful turning into a cost effective biofuel feedstock – http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/morning_call/2012/06/entrepreneur-at-ua-eyes-kudzu-as.html?
Lived in New Mexico quite awhile… had lots of morning glories. My neighbor called them “bind weed”. After you use mowers or tillers (or anything else with gears) around them you’ll understand the ‘bind weed’ name. They can be nasty… pretty, but nasty!! 😉
I cringe when I see a yard with Morning Glories. They are pretty, but they are the devil to get out of your yard.
At least someone warned you. I planted “Grandpa Ott’s”, an heirloom, and it lives on several years later. I know to pull it away from any shrub or plant I want to live.
Last year the small lamp in front of our house was fully smothered, which was interesting. This year it claimed a chair, which was likewise interesting. At Halloween we yanked the tangle up to hang in dry clumps off our denuded crabapple tree, overhanging the front sidewalk, which added a creepy element to our seasonal decor. Making the best of it! But mostly I keep pulling it up when it’s small.
I would like to plant sunchokes as I have a big yard and a “special” space for them. How do I start? Do I just plant the tubers that I can buy at the farm market? I am sorry if this is a silly question but I cannot find any place on the web to buy seeds or seedlings for sunchokes.
That should work just fine. I started mine from purchased tubers, but since then I have had them spring up in the overgrown areas where I have tossed roots haphazardly. They are quite durable.
Ok I bought some sunchoke tubers. Now with being the middle of June in central Delaware do you think I should plant them now? I have read where they should be planted in the spring or winter. If I plant them now I am not sure I will be able to harvest. I purchased the red fuseau variety and I hear they take 120 days until harvest which would be the middle of October. Any thoughts or advice is appreciated. By the way I love your site. There is so much good information for gardening! Thank You
My money would be on putting them in the dirt now rather than trying to hold them in the fridge. In your area, the ground isn’t frozen hard in October, right? They sweeten up after light frost.
Yes our Octobers can be mild with no frost until November usually. I know what I am doing this weekend. Thank you again for the help!
Mine have been stunningly durable, so I suspect you’ll be fine. You’re welcome.
Great info. I have a similar, but not as bad, with white calla lilies. It’s difficult to remove their roots as well (again probably not as bad as sunchoke but no fun either).
I don’t remember – can you eat those, or are they for the flowers only?
CANNA LILIES ARE EDIBLE NOT CALLA
PASSION FRUIT TAKE OVER, TOO
I spent 3 years trying to get a nice fat bed of these first the voles struck.I just got them started again. My senile father in law went threw my whole garden weeding only it was not weeds. He destroyed the garden dumped out a huge 15 year old pot of Lillie’s that were on my porch in a hole low spot in the yard. You know when you reach that point where your suspicions that your loved one is not quite right anymore are no longer just a feeling. Yea Bull in a China shop……
I would love some sunchokes…apparently I missed ordering them 2 yrs in a row from some company that decided they were not shipping to arizona anyway!! LOL! I’m a new gardener, trying to be as organic as possible. the bane of my existence is goat heads…nasty weeds that have seeds w/sharp points that can puncture tires…my poor dog had a seed or 2 jam in her paws on several occasions. I didn’t use any chemicals but I did try a blowtorch once…the seeds saw it coming & jumped out of the way. I thought I might hurt some poor lil bug walking along minding his own business so I gave that idea up pretty quickly.then I tried laying several sheets of cardboard boxes on top of every free spot of ground. worked for awhile until the rains came & softened the cardboard just enough for these guys to once again rear their pointy heads. now I have the weed paper & several tons of rock on top. seems to be working ok for now. will build a 4th raised bed for the sunchokes & butt it up against the back fence where they are free to roam in peace!! so if anybody has some they’d like to send my way I’d be happy to oblige!! LOL!!! Meg
Would goats eat the thorny things?
oh my, I think they would rip their lil throats…I read somewhere there is a weevil that someone in oregon sells & they have been know to eat them…they are medicinal somewhere in the world also but I haven’t read too much about that. they are actually quite pretty w/their deep dark green leaves & pretty yellow flowers!
How do other locals deal with it?
I have 6 acres of goatheads! I tried the “puncture vine weevil” and I think I just have too many. A woman here in West Texas has invented a device called a Sticker Picker that looks promising. I am picking one up tomorrow.
I just dug an enormous crop of sunchokes – they just kept appearing deeper and deeper in my raised bed. I would be willing to share – I’m in So. Cal so could send (or bring on next trip) or you could try Trader Joe’s – they should have them in the produce dept a lot cheaper than a seed catalog.
What a funny and informative article you have written on sunchokes! One grew in my garden last year. I was puzzled by the knobby growth at the root of a very tall sunflower and found out that it is Jerusalem Artichoke! This year, the one plant has expanded into at least 10. I didn’t plant the original sunchoke, wonder if the seed was contained in birdseed or perhaps a bird planted it. Thank you for the explicit photos and description of trying to eradicate this stubborn plant. I’ll look for the little growths in the spring! Mine also grew in a vacant corner of the yard.
It’s native to some parts of the U.S., so it makes sense that it could easily volunteer in some areas. At least you know you’ve got a secret food stash. 🙂
Thanks for your article and all the reader comments. My daughter has chickens, pigs and sheep… maybe this is a good supplement feed for them! 😉
It’s abundant, that’s for sure.
Ducks are the answer to problem sunchokes or at least were for us. It takes all season, but they will root out the shallow ones and eat the sprouts off of the deeper ones until they give out. Ours are now surrounded by poultry run, which keeps them from spreading.
That’s a great idea!
I planted sunchokes in the very back center of my fenced garden this year and even with groundhog incursions, they produced well as I just harvested them here in Ohio. They loved to eat the green shoots with only carrot tops, broccoli, spinach and kale being more sought after. So I’m thinking any herbaceous animal would eat them if you had too many. I could even loan you a few groundhogs if necessary (take my groundhogs, please).
lol – we’ve got groundhogs, but thankfully they live up on the hill, well away from the garden. I’ve heard they are pretty good roasted…
If eating the ground hogs make sure to get out the glands by their legs. They make good eating, just cut up and season and fry like chicken, then put in pot with water and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. OF course when my cousin cooked up one, he soaked it over night in salt water and then seasoned and fried it and simmered it. Nice, tender, juicy, dark meat.
Thanks for the tip. Good to know. I know wild meat often benefits from a good soaking before cooking, but haven’t tried groundhog.
Laurie, you never disappoint – thanks for this warning. 🙂 I have a great place that is going to soon be surrounded by chicken run, and until then, I can mow all the way around it, so I think I’ll try some sun chokes there.
After reading this, I remembered in Nourishing Traditions where sun chokes are said to “cause a filthy, loathsome, stinking wind within the body.” Have you successfully eaten these without digestive distress since that first memorable incident?
We haven’t planted anything invasive, but we have Himalayan Blackberries EVERYWHERE here in the PNW. They are evil. Pure, delicious evil!
The key to eating sunchokes (and any food high in inulin) is to enjoy in moderation. Smaller portions do not launch an evil takeover of your intestinal tract.
I miss blackberries! We don’t have any patched nearby, but we had some beautiful ones we used to pick when I was a little girl up in northwest Wisconsin. Every once in a blue moon I try purchasing some in the store, and they always disappoint. Nothing like fighting the vicious canes for sweet, perfectly ripe berries!
Read somewhere that sunchokes are best with a bit of protein–maybe that helps lower any effect of whatever the toxin is in them that some advise against?
Since sunchokes are largely inulin, which helps grow gut biotas, maybe it would be better to consume daily probiotics [fermented foods, broad-spectrum probiotics, etc.], before or with sunchokes?
That gives them good cultures to enhance, instead of encouraging whatever badly unbalanced, deficient biotics so many these days, have.
I recently cooked a 2-qt. pot of freshly harvested sunchokes in water, w/ chopped onion, about a handful of [uncured-no nitrites] bacon pieces, in a semi-mashed consistency. Also added: garlic, ginger, and Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight seasoning powders, and a dab of coconut oil.
Maybe those reduce gas-forming?
That, plus I use a broad-spectrum probiotic + kombucha at least daily.
This batch of sunchokes tasted good to me [or maybe I’m not as picky about food textures and flavors as some are; or, maybe I was just very hungry?].
Hasn’t, so far, seem to produce gas.
We grew ours in a 6′ long watering trough used as a raised bed…some of the dirt in that, was rich compost recycled from the mushroom farm nearby…the plants reached around 6′ tall, loaded with dark blue-black “berries”. Probably will have more return, due to leftover root bits. These absolutely crowded-out anything else in the container, by root-crowding, and by dense-shading.
We have river-rock ground, so any root foods need grown in containers…glad we did~!
Oregano, parsley, and tomatillos. Ugh, the tomatillos. 2 years ago my grandmother gifted me with a bunch of “eggplant” seedlings that turned out to be tomatillos. I didn’t plant a single tomatillo plant last year, but I pulled up around 50. They were *everywhere*! There’s also a mimosa tree in the driveway that was here when we bought the place. I’ve had to make it a habit to patrol the sides of the driveway every time I leave or come home so I can catch any sprouts before they get out of hand.
My yard has oregano, chives, spearmint, sunchokes, and wild black/rasp berries. Good thing I have a BIG yard! My sunchokes have been in there for 20 years + now and are rarely harvested. However, a board over the top of them flat before they come up in the spring helps, as does pulling them out in the spring before they flower. We don’t like them very much, although they aren’t bad with Euell Gibbon’s crock pickle liquor, pickled. But otherwise? If I had chickens (next year) I’d just give the chickens almost all the roots. The oregano, chives, and spearmint get mowed down when they “escape” their beds. I also pull leaf bags full of plants up in the fall and dry them. Gives me enough for almost a year (2 people). We drink mint tea year round and I add the oregano to almost everything stew or soup like. I also have chive butter in the freezer — good on baked taters and in soups.
How do you make your chive butter? Do you dry the chives, or blend them and mix with the butter?
I agree they ARE prolific. I started mine in a monster pot a couple years ago and still harvest, with out re-planting. The friend that gave me the original (she gave me one root) started selling her excess at the farmer market. I know it doesn’t help with the invasion, but it might help with the surplus.
Thanks for the informative and thoroughly entertaining account of your experiences! I am planting sun chokes that I let mould by accident in hopes they will sprout the way potatoes will if you put peelings into the ground. From your post, I assume this will work easily.
Until I read your post, I felt guilty eating these because I assumed that something that tasted this sweet must be high on the glycemic index or otherwise not good for me. Luckily my body processes these with no issue but, I will look out for increased gas in case I missed it.
I want sun chokes to take over my parking strip (between side walk and street) and I am encouraged by your piece that this will happen.
Since you have not enjoyed eating these, may I suggest that you try softening them by sautéing thin slices in butter until they are bendable and then layering them in a buttered gratin dish with gruyere, s&p, butter, and cream & baking for 40 min on 350. Yummy!
I forgot to say (and you asked that we mention this) that I will be planting the sun chokes in San Jose, CA. I am also glad you mentioned they come back after mowing because I’d love it if the sun chokes edge out the lawn currently in the parking strip. Until that is successful, I still must mow. It’s so helpful to know that the sun chokes are likely to survive this well. After paying $4/lb for these at the Farmer’s Market and $6/lb at Whole Foods, I will be grateful to have a huge supply for only the cost of the watering.
I am so glad that I read this. I just bought 6 tubers and was planning on just digging a hole in the back corner of the yard and tossing ’em in. Now, I will definitely be walling those suckers in before I do. Do you know about how deep their roots go?
About a foot, give or take.
There is a variety that does not flower which means it doesn’t seed. It spreads by tuber only and can be grown in buckets. It is called Supernova Sunchoke. It may not be as pretty as some of the others but if you are growing it for food and keeping it contained then this is the variety that will be best suited for that purpose. It has a very mild flavor for a sunchoke and is pretty much universally liked. I hope this helps. Best of luck guys!
How To Get Rid of SunChokes : ( not recommended – lol )
Dump too much Soil Sulfur on em and dig it in ! (They call it “Agricultural Sulfur” now).
The Sulfur is good medium for some kinda fungus or bacteria or something which rots the SunChokes when it gets warm/wet enuf for the Sulfur to become “active”.
Then don’t let em get any water for winter so the soil becomes like a hunk of cement on top. (If u don’t live in desert climate, I suggest maybe covering with plastic for the winter? – or probly someone else has better suggestion for this).
Takes a whole year in high altitude desert climate (NM, 6 to 8 months of winter with little bouts of “spring” happening during normal spring & fall and sometimes during normal early or late winter, can snow here allah way into June) with very heavy clay soil (alluvial plain, mostly naturally neutral Ph here, which surprised me after Southern CA and was why I made the mistake of using too much Sulfur without doing a Ph test first.)
Of Course then u’ll hafta re-do the soil in that area, ugh . . . and it won’t be useful for anything else for quite some time . . .
Not a very good solution, I’ll admit, but it does work, tho I don’t recommend it.
I’m very successful at digging em out, dig deep (about 1.5 to 2 feet or more if the soil is richer and deeper) and wide and comb thru the soil for stray pieces then keep eye out for new sprouting pieces to dig out – in one growing season, have eradicated them completely this way in the areas where I’ve been persistent thru-out the growing season. I must be a “pig” LMAO!
The plant I need to be MOST vigilant of is Yellow Dock, aka Wild Rhubarb, aka Curly Dock (among other names) — also a useful plant but, talk about a DEEEEEEEP root ! If it gets established I hafta dig SEVERAL feet to get it all.
SunChokes make a great wind break if u have enuf space to dedicate solely to SunChoke – leave the stalks standing and wind break is good thru winter. This year I’m not gonna bother removing the stalks at all (except when I wanna use em for other things – very useful) – becoming a tangled thicket . . . But then, I don’t have any HOA on my back and rural area so no neighbors close enuf to complain about how it looks.
Gophers like em in the winter and have done quite a lot of clearing for me.
But come spring when they start sprouting, even Gophers don’t like em it seems.
They dry very nicely for long term storage – cut into ~ 1/2″(-) pieces B4 drying in the sun or in warm dry place then store in plastic baggies – dry em soon after harvest in the fall, B4 their starch composition changes to potato texture if u want the inulin & sweet sunflower seed flavor.
About “seeding” – I have read that seeds take 530 something days to germinate (sorry, lost track of the article in my file storage). ? ? ? Interesting about the dif varieties. Maybe I have the non-viable seed variety ? ? ?
In my early SunChoke days, I tried seeding em. Wondered why they wdn’t sprout.
I’d guess that what ppl are seeing are mostly not seedlings but shoots from pieces of root and/or tuber or else they have a dif kind ? ? ?
In Dicotyledon species,(flowering plants as opposed to grasses which are monocots), the cotyledons are the first pair of little leaves that are formed from the seed “food” around the little plant germ in the seed. They are usually a dif shape from the normal leaves of the plant on Dicots . . . If it never has cotyledons, then it’s not from seed.
I have enuf dried SunChoke to last me for YEARS! Gotten tired of eating em. LOL ! ! ! ! ! ! But they’re still very useful and extremely good nutrition.
Yellow Dock grows vigorously where I live up North. Accidentally discovered that cutting of all the leaves at ground level and laying them over the top of the root (corm?) so that it is completely shaded off will keep it from growing back for the rest of the season, the bigger the plant and its leaves, the more complete the effect. Before discovering this I laboriously dug many of these out by the root during the wettest of spring winter and had broken bits of the root re-grow. This mulch technique is so much easier, and it often causes the plant to die and not reappear. I also hunt for and cut off the flower stalks when they appear in summer. If they have matured into seed, I burn them. There are plenty of of other weeds that I allow to go to seed, plenty for the critters to eat without the dock.
I don;t have a problem with spreading here in central WV…the deer love the plants. I have to fence them in to have any at all. Lost all I had planted a few years ago to the deer. Will be replanting some soon this spring.
Ha! I wish we had that problem here in Ga. We can’t keep a crop from year to year, and the crops we did have dwindled in production.
I have a problem with blackberry bushes-they’re self reproductive and, very invasive all over Washington state. I’m diabetic and just received the 20 sunchoke tubers I ordered from back east. I want to start eating them to see what effect they will have for my diabetes. Will plant most of them in large containers until next spring when I’ll make my final decision where to plant them.
My question, if anyone can answer is, how well do they fare against these invasive blackberries?
Leonard, I have never seen any plant that Sunroot cannot shade out of existence, including black raspberries and quackgrass.
Fascinating thread! I just dug my first crop of sunchokes (Georgia). I see the plant wild all over, but when I dig in the ground the wild ones don’t have tubers?..I have some of the mentioned invasives, especially lemon balm. Also yarrow, passion vine, mint. I like them. Good to have tea around all year.
I think the domesticated ones have been selected for larger tuber size.
I’ve enjoyed growing sunchokes for several years now, both at the garden-forest boundary and in half wine barrels (which they will absolutely fill up with tubers!), but my wife never really liked the taste, until…
I made veggie fritters with them! I know this isn’t a cooking post but I just have to share this. Boil a mixture, about equal parts, of white potatoes and sunchokes, and about half as much carrot and leek, until tender enough to smash. Drain and smash. Add an egg and another egg yolk (extra yolk keeps fried foods from absorbing as much grease), 2 or 3 Tbsp of butter, a little milk, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste, a few dashes of soy sauce (I actually prefer Bragg’s liquid aminos), and enough flour to make it like pancake batter. Chill it to thicken some more, then simply drop spoonfuls of the mixture into hot deep fat fryer at 365F-ish. Fry about 2 minutes, then flip fritter over and fry for about 2 more minutes. Excellent plain or with a horseradish flavored dip (use those “invasives!”) Makes more than you think it will, so make less than you think you need.
My wife said, “I LOVE sunchokes like this!!” I think I’m going to have to make some for dinner now…
Love your site and the commenters.
Tripp from North Georgia
Thanks for the recipe!
I just found your blog and I love this! You had me cracking up. 🙂
I think I’m going to try some “chokes” next year in a half wine barrel as specimen plants and for eating. I would LOVE to grow them in a lightly shaded area on our property for a privacy screen, but I’m not sure how well they would grow in dappled light. I might try just for giggles.
In the meantime, I’m going to try them in a half wine barrel in the sun.
I suspect they’d do fine in partial sun, but so far I haven’t tested it since my growing area is all full sun.
I’m growing them for several reasons. I have an area that nothing but weeds will grow in and because they are easy to grow and invasive I am hoping they will COVER the area. The more the better because my bees (50 hives) will love the flowers, my goats will devour the plants, the seed heads will be good for the poultry, and the roots will be good to grind up for all of the animals as well as for me to eat. I’ll be growing comfrey along with it. Just wondering what to do with all of the fat goats, chickens, and honey I’ll have. Win, Win! :^)
Oh my goodness I laughed so hard as I read this only because I can totally relate. We have a raised garden area. It had sunchokes planted in it. My mother and I tried to get them all out…we dug a good 12 inches down through the whole bed and I STILL have them coming up. Obnoxious, persistent buggers!
On the plus side, you will never starve. 😉
I enjoyed your post very much, and how true it is! Years ago I planted sunchokes in our small urban garden. I enjoyed the sunchoke forest that grew and the little leaf hoppers that appeared with them. I enjoyed the harvest, also, and shared the sunchokes with my diabetic grandfather. But–just as you said–I like to plant different flowers and vegetables each year, so it was, indeed, a battle to eradicate them.
Thank you very much for your post warning us happy gardeners! It is informative and entertaining, too! Loved the pictures, as well!
They may be a great way to feed the world, but they do not play well in the garden. 🙂
I think we have sunchokes in with the sunflowers that were here when we bought our land. We love the privacy and beautiful flowers they both give. The problem is I am not sure they are sunchokes and afraid to eat them until I’m sure. It would be great to try them, and know we have food stored in the ground.
A few plants that are invasive here in zone 5 are common Pink and Purple Morning Glory and Perilla (I think its Perilla). A friend gave me a few plants years ago and she had forgotten what they were. I just thought they were pretty with deep redish purple ruffled leaves so I planted them. They self reseed everywhere. I like them everywhere, but in a small yard they would be a pain. I am transplanting a bunch every year as a border along the gravel drive. Pretty!
If you take a plant sample into your local cooperative extension office, they should be able to give you a positive ID.
This is a great article and the posts are very enlightening. I ran across an article about sunchokes that said they are a native plant that you only have to plant once and never worry about. It never mentioned how it proliferates or should I say takes over. Thanks to all of you for all the information found here. I will put it to good use.
BAMBOO/MINT/SNAKE GRASS/HORSETAILS/ just for starters, the bamboo looks spectacular but it kills everything it touches, the dead
leaves that fall also kill any other green, it sends out hideous roots that will buckle concrete, paving stones, grow through walls… plant at your own risk!
Bamboo is also hard on loppers and shears because it contains silica. Bermudagrass is worse.
We live in Southwest Colorado and love our Jerusalem Artichoke plants, they don’t seem to be spreading and provide welcome shade and pretty yellow flowers. Have never tried eating the tuber though. Our problem with invading plants is the Russian Sage, with pretty purple flowers. We have tried just about everything to at least keep them under control, but nothing has helped. They are root based and spread like crazy, friends said it has taken them 3 years to ‘finally’ get rid of them (haven’t heard if they are back again this year). They have used Roundup and hooking a chain/rope around the base and pulling out with a truck! Roundup doesn’t seem to work on them.
Lots of plants have become resistant to RoundUp, which is why they’re now making even more toxic weed killers. Weeds are survivors, and many of them have seeds that can last for decades in the soil until the right conditions for growth are available. The best long term strategy is changing the soil and microclimate, but it’s a long term commitment.
I planted the Jerusalem artichoke two years ago. It is multiplying this year. I have a forest area in the rear of my home. I am moving it there. I found that if planted next to other invasive plants it stays put a bit better. Also, the deer eat it. I have a LOT of deer. I have no intention of eating it or doing anything other than enjoying the flower. SE Michigan
I live in northwest Wisconsin and when my husband and I bought our house, there was a beautiful flower bed with a couple of pretty plants that had variegated leaves among the other perennials. I learned that they are called Bishop’s Weed. It spreads fast and will keep coming back if even a tiny bit of the root is left when dug up. Supposedly, Bishop’s Weed is a tasty edible.
Oh yeah! We bought some of that for a groundcover at our last place (they were calling it “snow-on-the-mountain”) and it went nuts. More on it in this video:
Bishop’s Weed, despite it’s invasive character, has some valuable herbal properties, as noted in the blog below. I had heard the flower, also known in Ayurvedic medicine as Ammi visnaga, or Khella, described as beneficial for relieving asthma symptoms. It has a nice fragrance somewhat reminiscent of Moroccan Blue Chamomile, a scent that I really love and have used for allergies. And guess what, Laurie, in the first comment dated Sept. 22, 2007 it is also used topically to treat psoriasis, with one of its components termed “psoralens”. Treatment with it is described, but in a way that I would approach as an opportunity for cautious experimentation. I discovered a little patch of the variegated variety in a shady spot under a tree that seems to be staying right there. The non-variegated variety was recommended to me as an attractant for trichogramma wasps. It reminds me of one of those troublesome relations who hav numerous and substantial charms and a few dreadful habits. http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/2006/05/virtues-of-bishops-weeds.html
A further, and maybe my last note on the Bishop’s Weed topic. Wikipedia has a brief discussion on Bishop’s Weed that lists several quite different plants. The dreaded invasive Snow-On-The-Mountain aka Bishop’s Weed is termed Aegopodium podagraria. The Ammi visnaga/Khella of which I am so fond is very different in appearance, with lacy, all green leaves. This distinction is important to me personally, because in my township uncontrolled patches of Bishop’s Weed/Snow-On-The_Mountain can make me subject to a fine of $125! I can now demonstrate that the patch of Ammi visnaga I will be planting this year is all good and penalty free! There are other therapeutic plants that have the name Bishop’s Weed attached to them, including Ammi majus, which the one used to treat psoriasis, though it is phytophoto-sensitizing, and should be used with caution. How so many plants got the name Bishop’s Weed is not explained.
Always good to have a positive ID when dealing with medicinal and potentially invasive plants. It’s been an eye-opener to me as I continue researching just how many different plants may share a common name.
Sunchokes can also travel and crack your new concrete patio. It was the neighbors patio, we moved and I don’t think he ever understood what happened. They will also grow in graveled walkways and driveways. But aside from that, I think sunchokes are tasty and with a good recipe can be super healthy for diabetics.
Oh man! I hadn’t thought of that, but I fully understand the dangers. They are tough.
Excellent post! I wish I would have read it before allowing a friend to plant a few sunchoke tubers in my vegetable garden. I now have a sunchoke garden and the bees love it, which makes me happy. I live in a northern suburb of Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota and the sunchoke thrives even after tilling up the soil 12″ deep and taking out every single tuber found. The plant doesn’t flower until the end of summer. The inulin found in the tubers will be lower in colder climates.
They are amazingly resilient, aren’t they? At least I know we won’t starve. 🙂
Wow. I just love Jerusalem artichokes. They make a lovely puree and soup which, yes, is creamy despite what the OP said. They make crunchy baked chips. Our family adores them, and none of us have any issues with gas. They are also a pretty addition to our vegie patch.
With any plant you have to plant wisely which is why we planted them in large tubs (OK an old bathtub actually!) – but they are not the only plants capable of spreading. My parsley and chard keeps self-seeding in odd spots in the gardens (no complaints here!) – and raspberry or mint can be a pest if planted in the wrong spot. A bit of homework goes a long way.
i feel the same way about any herb related to the mint or onion family – container only unless you want to grow them everywhere
lol – I keep finding volunteer plants in the mint family yards away from where they were originally planted. Good thing the bees love the blossoms.
When I lived in TN northeast of Nashville, black eyed Susans were my enemy. The people living in the house before us decided to add them to the flower garden. Two years I spent trying to get them to let the other flowers grow. Just like mint and comfrey a tiny piece of root will survive to make a new plant. I was never a fan of these flowers, but truly despised them while living in TN. I moved to Oregon into what was basically the high desert region. Here they plant Black eyed Susans everywhere they are one of the only plants the dry weather can’t kill. lol and they don’t spread out much in this area. Just goes to show that native plants make better immigrants sometimes.
At my old house there was a shaded area by the next door neighbor’s house, that UNFORTUNATELY was a perfect microclimate for the English ivy they planted under their tree! Normally, English ivy doesn’t grow that well here in southwestern Ohio. It mainly only can be grown at the base of large trees. UNFORTUNATELY, at this house it was the WHOLE ENTIRE SIDE YARD. No grass, just woody, thick branches of ivy. I tried to plant a shade garden there of all my favorite shade-loving flowering plants. It didn’t make it. I’ve NEVER seen English ivy grow like that anywhere before!
Well they sound PERFECT for me, considering I kill everything. 😀
There you go!
Tansy, a popular herb for several reasons, including an insecticide. Wildly invasive. It will quickly take over.
A friend gave me a few tubers this weekend. I had never grown them before, but was intrigued. I am glad that I read your post. I will treat them like our horseradish which survives on benign neglect. But before I firmly commit to them, I think I will plant them in a large container destined for the patio so they don’t take over my garden.
We’ve gotten some sort of grubs in our patch now, too, so I’m hoping to be able to get chickens in there this year and get it all cleaned out.
Good luck with that. I find that our chickens do a great job of getting grubs out of our garden.
I planted mint in an enclosed garden area last year, this year I wound up pulling like three pounds of runners that were starting to sprout up elsewhere. It hasn’t left the bed yet, but it’s trying.
I plant my chicken run with mint. It really helps keep the mice away. I have movable fencing so I let my girls take over a mint area if it gets above 3″. So far so good!
I have a suchlike in the southwest corner of my yard by the privacy fence. It’s been there for over 15 years and has not spread at all. It’s in kind of a shady area so that may be why…and we have never pulled up tubers to eat them. It’s a beautiful plant and really brightens the shady area but it dues get dusty mildew and little red bugs that attach to the stems which are gross. I used to spray it but the bees love the flowers so I deal with the ugly bugs and mildew now.
as for invasive plants….day lilies, gooseneck, garlic chives, have taken over my perennial garden! Make sure to cut the flowers before they seed and plant lillies where they can go rogue.
Daylillies took over most of the foundation of my mom’s house.
Came across this post and thought I would add a different viewpoint! I’ve grown Jerusalem artichokes on a small field scale (about 1/2 acre) for 15 years. I rotate them along with potatoes, fodder beet and kale. We allow our pigs to forage freely over them during November and December before bringing the pigs in to farrow in comfort during the New Year. We hand dig enough ‘seed’ for the following year, before letting the pigs in and apart from a few ‘volenteers’ they are never a problem for the subsequent crop of potatoes. We don’t eat that many due to the ‘side effects’! but the pigs do very well on them alone and we always have very healthy piglets! Great fodder crop for us. Happy planting!
Clearly, I need some pigs. 🙂
ha! try it maybe..but fence well first! 😉
Planning to start with chickens this year, then we’ll see how things go. I’m not much of a larger animal person (poultry was always my area growing up on the farm). Maybe one of the boys will bring home a daughter-in-law who loves bigger animals in a few years. 😉
Lambs Ear. Such a cute and innocent plant in a three inch pot. Little did I know what was waiting for us. I planted it by the small pond by our back porch and watched with joy as it rapidly grew. Beautiful lavender flowers, soft silver leaves to pet. The next year I got a small taste of what was to come. The seeds had traveled to every other flowered in the yard. I kept busy pulling them out, as well as the weeds. Next I found them growing in the cracks of our blacktop driveway. In the cracks of our cement sidewalk. The original plant had grown huge. The next summer I just couldn’t keep up with it. My husband finally took Roundup to it. We took out the pond and put a cement driveway over three of the flower beds. We still see them coming up in the lawn. We run them over with the lawnmower. Maybe one day they will be gone.
I didn’t realize that one was so prolific. Thanks for the warning!
Gosh! There was a small patch of lamb’s ear plants in the front shaded L of a place we rented for years. But that patch of lamb’s ears always died back in winter [Pacific NW]. After several years, it was entirely gone. Never returned. IDK why it failed to thrive….too much rain here? Winter freezes? Too much shade?
I have been looking for sunchokes like mad and I have an old bathtub I want to use as a planter… does anyone by chance have some to ship to FL?
Many nurseries sell them, and you can order through amazon. I’m not sure if there are any rules restricting sale to Florida.
You might try going to the grocery store and see if you can get some there. I bought lemon grass and horseradish at the grocery and was able to get it to grow very nicely.
When I moved from Delaware to California, I moved some house plants I used to keep outside in the summertime. I did have lemon balm growing out in my yard in DE and apparently one seed managed to find it’s way to one of the potted plants. In CA I had those potted plants sitting on my deck and that summer a lemon balm plant appeared. It grew nicely and then one of my friends said he’d like some seed.. … From that one little plant’s seed, it spread all over my friend’s yard and 25 years later it’s even all over the yard at my new house. That’s one determined plant.
I started with one lemon balm plant 8 years ago. I now find it all over the garden. At least it smells nice and is useful!
Love lemon balm
I am a proponent of companion planting, that is planting “friendly” plants near to each other. In one of my books I read that planting horseradish in the potato patch would repel potato beetles. Both the potatoes and the horseradish thrived, and I had no potato beetles. (I don’t know if it was because of the horseradish or that we just didn’t have any potato beetles that year.)
The next year I learned the miserable truth about horseradish – you can’t get rid of it! Even the smallest thread left in the ground sprout next year. Even covering it with mulch won’t suffocate it, but only anger it. I laid down several layers of newspaper and covered the area with grass clippings. All other plants/weeds were smothered, but the horseradish plant formed a point and sliced its way up through the mulch and live happily ever after.
To make matters worse, since horseradish likes loose soil and my soil tends to be dense, the resulting horseradish root tended to be long and skinny with lots of threads, but not much horseradish.
Anyway, 25 years later I’m still trying to get rid of that horseradish.
Just one question – does it still repel the potato beetles?
Great post and comments.
I have planted them in containers…will they escape?
I love them as a veg…very like the parsnip with more texture and character…and I would like the sunflowers ….but I don’t want the invasive plants…The Day of the Triffids is almost my favourite John Wyndham book, but I am not keen to become a triffid (sunchoke) victim!!!
I don’t think they’ll escape – unless you toss parts of roots or tops somewhere away from the container. Then all bets are off.
Thanks…that’s why I potted them….will let you know if the Triffids escape
Thank you so much for the information about Jerusalem artichokes. The way you presented it brought a smile to my face and I feel like I know you. Thanks from a former “Mainerd”, ayuh! , now in the desert s.w.
You’re welcome, Pam.
Exactly what I wanted to hear. I planted a couple pounds of these this past spring and they’re coming up quite nice.
The reason I have them planted is for emergency food for my family. Sure, I’ll probably never need it, but if I ever did, I’d probably be quite grateful to have nutritious food that I just “can’t git rid of”.
A typical garden is great, but for real survival purposes, having crops that are the best at it themselves, seems like a good idea. I’m trying to figure out what crops these are and to grow them. If nothing else, I’d like to let these sort of invasive crops do battle with each other to keep themselves in check. We’ll see how it works.
HILARIOUSLY WRITTEN STORY AND GREAT WARNING THANKS AS I AM ABOUT TO PLANT SOME !
Here’s another one trying to take over: wild garlic, also known as bear garlic or ramson. I live in Germany, near Munich, where it’s a native plant called Bärlauch. Makes delicious pesto, so I was happy to have it. But then I injured my hand and couldn’t do much in the garden for a while, and now it’s everywhere! The roots/bulbs are tiny but quite deep and tenacious.
I also have sunchokes doing well along a fence.
I see it’s a wild relative of chives, which can also spread like crazy if not dead headed. Thanks for the warning!
I HAVE WILD GARLIC AND LOVE IT…I pull it up and steam it with my asparagus in the spring, and sometimes just steam up a pot of it for a vegetable, at the stage where it looks like a scallion. Add a little butter and seasoning if you like. I also pull it up and clean it and chop it in the blender and then dry it on the trays in the dehydrator and then blend it up again and put it in a spice bottle. It is a nice mild garlic flavor which is great for garlic bread or to season vegetables. I have even pickled it and my family love that. I saved the green tops to dry. It was a lot of work but everyone helped and we made quite a few pints of it. Once it starts setting head, then it is too woody. but I sometimes dig it up in the fall and use it. It is quite strong then. And usually when I dig, I can find “garlic pearls” below the roots or attached to the roots. They are little round garlic in a hard shell. Once you get them out of the shell they are quite tasty.( My old neighbor Tom C. turned me on to the pearls.) I live in NW PA.
But is has spread everywhere, as I don’t always head it and the seeds drop. I used to cut the heads as they were forming and steam those, but last few years, I just didn’t get around to it.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Lisa.
If you need to get rid of a few…would you want to send me a few tubers, Lol????, to Michigan?
We’ve developed some sort of black “ick” in some of the tubers, so I’d be afraid of sending contaminated stock.
Sunchokes can be easily controlled. If any tubers are left in soil, just pull the plants out in the next summer when all their energy is above ground and there are no tubers underground yet. Without leaves, they cannot make tubers and they will not be able to regrow. They start sending their energy to the tubers when they sense that the day is getting shorter in autumn. I’ve grown them for many years in different places and can clear them wherever I want to without any problem.
I’m glad you’ve been able to successfully control yours. Mine tend to keep coming back all over from the tiniest bit, even when pulled mid-season. Once we get chickens, I hope to rotate a chicken tractor over the bed for a more thorough cleaning at the end of the season.
I have heard that pigs will turn over a plot in search of tubers, maybe worth a try.
Many critters will eat them. Looking forward to seeing how chickens like them next year.
Our bumper crop of Sunchokes is aging in the fridge, then to be grated, dried, & stored.
Learned: these do indeed come back; if they seed, they spread more. Sunchokes are Very gassy when eaten shortly after harvesting, but aging in the fridge for at least a couple weeks, really does lower the gas-factor. Saw suggestion to combine these with some protein, & it did also seem to decrease the gas-factor. But the more important thing: It appears that eating some almost daily is most key [along with healthy diet], since sunchokes help keep good biota & inhibit the bad ones.
Have tastily added finely chopped sunchokes to beans and rice, curries, stews.
Learned something even more important: Good gut bacteria is greatly helped by eating a small serving of sunchokes, daily. The fiber, inulin, etc. help good biotics survive, while not feeding bad forms….and, because of this, even eating about 1/4 to 1/2 c. chopped sunchokes with a bit of protein, daily, seems to trigger measurable weight loss…maybe 1/2 to 2 pounds. Really astounding, as I’d tried so much…this veggie was the only change…& losing a few pounds suddenly happened.
This article may lead people to some strange conclusions about H.Pylori, & what else, by saying H.Pylori is a good bacteria! THAT kind of idea must be quantified/qualified!!! Because, just as E.Coli is always in the gut, & usually helpful [IF other gut biotics are also healthy], E.Coli can also go rogue, causing horrible infections. H.Pylori gone-wrong, is strongly part of most cases of GERD, chronic nausea conditions, as well as maternal morning sickness, including the worst sort, Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
PERHAPS, it’s not simply the Type of biota, but the CONDITIONS all of those exist in, in the gut. If the cultures are a very large spectrum of types, that’s best.
What & how we eat, makes all the difference in gut health, therefore overall health.
There are many different strains of most common gut bacteria – some good, some bad. E coli strains have been identified in many food poisoning cases, yet other e coli strains are perfectly harmless. Different gut conditions do indeed seem to favor helpful bacteria over problem bacteria, and vice versa.
Thanks for sharing your weight loss story. Much cheaper than buying diet foods loaded with inulin.
Did you know that different people have different cocktails of ‘good’ gut bacteria and that as a consequence different foods have different effects on them meaning that a diet suitable for one person may not suit another? It’s more complex still because eating certain foods changes the mixture of this cocktail. For a more accurate description refer to the BBC (in UK); it’s scientific output – try “Michael Moseley”.
Yes, I’m quite familiar with gut biomes and their variations.
I’m just learning about permaculture design and food forests, and I love this post and the ensuing discussion. Invasive species are usually valuable in some way, breaking up or binding soil, fixing nutrients, attracting beneficial insects. By their nature invasive species produce a lot of biomass with no inputs or labor, which makes them incredibly valuable from a sustainability viewpoint.
The crucial trick is figuring out how to balance them when necessary, either with well-timed cut-and-drop or by finding animals that like to eat them or other plants that can cope with them and keep them in check. For every species we find sustainable controls for, we increase our understanding of nature and help rediscover our ability to co-evolve with the rest of the planet. Super important stuff, thanks!
Chris – I bet you’d love the book “Beyond the War on Invasive Species – A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration“. I did a review of it recently and I thought it was excellent. It features and elaborates on many of the points that you make.
I need to put this post on the “update” list. We’re getting chickens this year (no pigs yet), so I’m curious to see how they work with the sunchokes. I did ask Larry if he’d be willing to share more of how they use sunchokes and he said he would write something up, but time has passed without hearing back from him, so I assume he’s busy farming.
I have lived in my Northern Utah home for 30 years. The “weed” that myself and the previous home owners have been fighting for at least the past 50 years turned out to be Goji Berry! It is also called Wolf Berry or Lycium barbarum and is now widely considered a super fruit. It was brought by Chinese workers building the Transcontinental Railroad completed in 1869 and is definitely here to stay. It spreads by seeds and cuttings (any time a branch can contact the soil). It tastes lousy but is all the rage and has been cultivated in China for over 700 years. I guess I will give up and start cultivating instead of attacking this very persistent plant despite its long thorns. Maybe I will find a recipe to make it taste good.
You comment makes me chuckle a little, as I have two goji berry plants that I have been trying to grow for the last two years that just sit there. Maybe if you mix the berries with another fruit it will mellow out the flavor? I regularly make jams and fruit leather combining autumnberries with pears or apples, since the autumnberries are very astringent on their own.
The Goji berries I ate were dried and in a mix of pumpkin seeds, coconut, walnut, cashew, dried cranberries – a trail mix. It was delicious. Goji berries are supposed to be wonderful for you with great health benefits
We have two goji plants, but with our weird weather the last two years they’ve been struggling to get established. I hope they eventually take off so we can try fresh goji berries.
great info. i would like to try this in pots. what potting soil mix do you recommend ?
I’ve been very happy with the Foxfarm potting soil mixes, like their Happy Frog potting soil and Ocean Forest soil. Their blends have a good mix of nutrients, plus some of them include beneficial fungi, which can dramatically improve root/plant health. Of course, you can work with any good quality potting soil blend and give it a jumpstart with some compost tea, worm castings, your own garden compost or a variety of other add ins.
Here in central Virginia my boss grows both sunchokes and mint. She says both are extremely invasive. By the way, inulin is the key ingredient in pastas made for those on low carb diets. My family can’t eat it because of the gas it causes them, but it doesn’t cause me problems.
All true statements….but with one or two exceptions.
The tubers are VERY crunchy when made into pickles. Extremely so….and very tasty. As for control, not really a problem if you put them in a place that can be mowed should you decide to get rid of them. Also, RoundUp herbicide, heavily applied, will take them out. BUT, as good as they are, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to destroy their patch. Loose soil. heavy fertilizer, and plenty of water and the crops will be AMAZING! SO good!! Get some.
I would love to grow some sunchokes, would anyone be willing to send me some? I’d pay for the shipping. [email protected]
I slow roast them whole with oil in the oven for 1.5 hrs at 150c / Gas mark .
I then slit them individually like when gutting a fish then get the potato masher and squidge them fast & hard. All that white flesh just oozes out leaving an empty browned skin. Throw the skin away and collect all the white flesh.
I freeze this white flesh in little portions which I add to soups. Which add a unique flavour.
JA’s are one of the largest sources of probiotics and are good for you.
Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, which acts as a prebiotic, not a probiotic. Squidging does sound fun. 🙂
will sun chokes grow in texas sandy Lome ?????????
Oikos Tree Crops says that they should grow from Texas to Maine.
Mitch. I don’t know about Texas sandy loam but I grow around a quarter of an acre here in Ireland (our soil is sandy loam with lots of stones) each year for my pigs to root over during November and December. Before doing so I dig up enough tubers to fill 4 barrels and cover subsequent layers with sand. Every year the last few, very small, tubers get discarded with some of the sand at the end of a row. They grow just as vigorously as the rest! So, I’m guessing the answer is yes! 😉
I have commented earlier, but here is my latest for what it is worth: Nearly 50 years ago I acquired a start and since then have planted, moved and successfully grown Sun Chokes or whatever we wish to call them. Mine often grow to 10+ feet if stabilized and harvested after sunflower tops have wilted. They will migrate in time but digging will eliminate unwanted new locations. Cause Gas? Well for me, somewhat YES, but so do beans!! This is Portland area Oregon and everything grows here, including weeds. Don
Excellent article. Fun and informative. Thank you. But the ads on this page makes it jerky/hesitant and makes it hard to do something as simple as scrolling – even with my powerful computer and fast internet.
May I ask what browser you’re using? I have a good computer but very slow internet, and haven’t run into any issues with ad loading interfering with viewing the articles.
I too experienced problems with scrolling but this seemed due to some of the content appearing and then vanishing; nothing to do with standard of computer or baud rate. I’m not sure that the content was ads as such!
Double cooking them will eliminate the gas problem so it is said- seems to work for me.Try roasted Artichoke soup- roast first them cook into a puree soup with some other ingredients…nice. or boil lightly then slice into an au gratin with potatoes and cheese,garlic and paprika. Enjoy.Mine are planted as summer windbreaks for wind sensitive plants (like young maple trees, gooseberries and hazelnuts) and come up every year reliably but have not spread past where I want them. I cook buckets of them for my hens with other vegie scraps too. They don’t eat them raw it seems.
Thank you! I am trying sunchokes this year to see how they will perform as a compost crop and addition to this winter’s chicken diet. A lot of foods that can be extra work to digest can be pickled and I wonder if you have tried that? I may, will comment on digestibility for all members of the household. Otherwise it’s really helpful to know they are acceptable cooked. What an intriguing crop sunchokes are! A bit of a puzzle, but a superfood for the ingenious gardener. Somebody somewhere is going to found an international sunchoke festival, and I’m going!
I haven’t tried pickling, but I know it can be done and is indeed effective in reducing the gas for some.
I have a theory that this plant could solve the climate change problems we are being led to believe exist. I have grown a crop year after year in the same six square foot plot continually in UK for several decades. This has resulted in yields of over 3 Imperial pounds per sqft; far greater than anything else I grow. Apart from harvesting them, the ground has remained unaltered or treated. The site is not even in a sunny spot. Grown on moorland, they could provide a feed-stock for some digestive process from which renewable energy could be obtained from land that would otherwise go to waste.
To avoid them spreading, my plot is hemmed in with buried roofing slates.
Was it not William Shakespeare that described them as the “nobbliest rhizome of them all”? (No you misheard. He described Caesar as “The noblest Roman of them all” Ed)
John S Churchill, You might be on to something with that idea! These ‘chokes grow almost any soil, little tending. If one plants them in rich soil, they REALLY produce! We have a 2’w x 6’ L x 2’d planter, filled with really good soil and compost. A handful of ‘chokes produced giant shrubs, and about 2 gallon bags filled with ‘chokes….kept in the crisper drawer in the fridge, have been providing a portion of food from those, for several months. Enough were left in the planter, that we’ll get _loads_ more this season!
These are a survival food, because, they volunteer and need so little care.
CLUE: To much-reduce gas from these: 1] store at least 2 weeks in fridge, before trying to eat them; 2] chop into small pieces and cook long; 3] eat some on most days, even a little, and it will help rebuild gut biota and heal the gut [because of high inulin content, a pre-biotic]
….I know this might sound counter-intuitive, because of the gas-factor. But, the more one eats them, the better the gut health, and the less gas.
These _might_ make a good crop to make bio-deisel from. Can cold-store, then later grate/cook/mash and dry into “cakes” for later use, and reduces canning and storage weight and space.
This might be a dumb question but where do I buy sunchoke tubers for planting? Using the same tubers I buy to eat? thanks!
There are links in the post, but you should be able to plant those you buy for eating, too.
That’s exactly how we got tubers to make our stand of them. Bought organic Jerusalem Artichokes from the Co-Op grocers in our city. Planted a few small ones. The 1st season, those grew very tall upper plants, and plenty of tubers in the dirt…almost a 5-gallon bucketful of them.
Chilling them for a couple weeks, at least, decreases the gaseous effect on digestion; add lengthy cooking, and it really reduces gaseous effects. The longer the storage in the produce bin in fridge, the more reduction in gaseous effects.
These have a long storage life: we still have a produce bag of them in the crisper drawer, from last season….now have new crop planted in a container, about 8″ tall now in May.
Hi! A friend of mine planted one of these in my front garden as a “thank you” present three years ago~ as I had done a lot to help her out one summer. Well, she is no longer a friend…but the plant she gave me has stayed tried and true! It has taken over my entire garden. Not only that…I now have some sort of what I assume to be an enormous “rodent colony”~ though I have never seen one.
Originally, I had hoped it was just home to a bunny and family…a “Watership Down” in my yard. But, a friend came over to rain on my parade and said…”ummmm, rabbits don’t make that many obvious holes. And, rabbits don’t mound dirt like that. And, rabbits don’t uproot plants. And, you wouldn’t see the rounded tops of rabbit tunnels” Etc.
Needless to say…I am now completely perplexed and even more unhappy than I originally was.
Not only do I have a plant I can’t get rid of and most of my other plants have been killed off/crowded out…BUT I have some sort of vermin living in my garden…seemingly, quite happily co-habitating with the Jerusalem Artichoke. Aka~ “choke the life out of the rest of your garden!”
Can anyone tell me “what” critters may be living in my garden?????? They seem to LOVE this plant! I would love to have a clue “WTF?!” to do about BOTH problems! Thanks!
Have you seen the critter at all? What size are the holes? Pocket gophers (ground squirrels) are prolific diggers, as are actual gophers. The pocket gophers dig a hole a couple inches across. Ground hogs are diggers, too, but their holes are much larger.
I haven’t seen the critters. Just the damage to the garden. I’ve been away for a couple weeks…but am going to revisit this issue in a few days when I return. I can let you know the size of the holes. I live in the Philadelphia suburbs…and gophers don’t normally live there. Unless they really go out of their comfort zone to eat the darn sunchokes! Thanks for the feedback!
Would you be OK growing pennyroyal plants in same area? pennyroyal is a mint family plant, grows similarly. Minty aroma. And, critters and bugs hate it, because it interrupts them breeding.
IDK if mint would do same; though one person said it did, I have yet to try that.
I’m working on planting starts of chocolate mint all around the foundations of the house, as a kind of aromatic deterrent…we like chocolate mint. Really don’t care if it tries to take over the grass/weeds adjoining, since it mows same as those. I need to find some pennyroyal seeds to try starting those, too.
We keep our sunchokes in a large container, started doing that more because rocky soil prevents harvesting root crops. So got a couple 2′ deep galvanized watering troughs from farm store, and configured those with a water reservoir in bottom, a U-shaped drain pipe for overflow at the outlet [it can adjust higher or lower for water levels to drain]. Filled them with good dirt and compost. No critters [not in 2+ years at least], and easier to harvest [raised beds].
Because of the galvanized metal, even slugs avoid crawling up the sides….a strip of copper tape around the sides, would make that even more effective [electrical differentials slugs are sensitive to..they hate copper, dislike galvanized for that, I was told…seems to work].
I’m willing to plant anything at this point. Especially since the vermin have aerated the soil so well for me…and the SunChokes have choked out most of my other plants 🙂 Thanks.
I see this as a “lift everything still alive”….prepare for critters to come pouring out of the soil…dig out all Jerusalem Artichoke plants and remnants/take them far, far, far away…and replant plants “I choose for myself” project. Ugh.
LOL! IDK if the pennyroyal plants will lift up everything alive….but, it should do a good job deterring rodents and bugs as well.
You will want “Mentha Pulegium” [European pennyroyal]. I just found some seeds on Amazon; various kinds. Look for heirloom organic seeds. One listed at the top was only 50 seeds, but farther down list, was one that had 400 seeds for close to same price.
Hope it does well for your garden, too!
I’ve been using the essential oil for decades, as an anti-bug thing in the house, daub onto back of our cat’s neck to repel fleas, etc. Oil can be daubed on baseboards, furniture legs, or made into a spray:
2 c. water + 2 drops liquid detergent + 20 drops pennyroyal oil.
Opt: other desired essential oils
That can be sprayed wherever…carpets, baseboards, cupboards. Or in garden.
Be aware: some seed-sellers have poor quality control of seeds…some off-brand sellers ship packets containing something Other than what’s labeled!
We got a couple larger packets from Amazon sellers this last spring, to plant flats of them, to jumpstart ground cover. What grew, looked and tasted close to Chickweed…which we already have in a few places, and use for food. But, weren’t real chickweed, either…..leaves got over twice the size of chickweed leaves. Someone thot it might be thyme…nope, not that either….
We never did learn what those really were.
Contacted seller, sent pictures of what grew in the flats, got them to send replacement seeds….but by then, too late for the season.
So maybe the new packet will grow pennyroyal next season.
Meanwhile, the 2 little starter pots of pennyroyal gotten at a nearby store, have grown OK, and, hopefully what I collected were seeds with the dying flowers this fall.
Hope they grow the right thing!
There are many related stellaria species, so you could well have gotten a chickweed “cousin”. All are edible and have similar medicinal properties, from what I’ve found in my research to date.
Hi Laurie, shortly after tending to my sunchoke I broke out in a rash on my hands and arms. Foolishly I was not wearing gloves it long sleeves, didn’t think I had to. Any suggestions?
Hmmm… I haven’t heard of anyone reacting to sunchokes before, but there’s always a first time. There’s a skin soothing salve recipe in this post – https://commonsensehome.com/parsnip-burn/
Antihistamines may also be helpful to help calm the reaction from the inside out.
Georgann, are you allergic to latex? Some plants are sappier than others ; )
Don’t plant passionflower or maypops (in the South). They feed the Gulf Frittilary butterfly, which is good, but are very invasive, which is very bad. I’m trying now to get rid of them all.
I think most of us agree that sunchokes can be very invasive. Have any of you tried using them as a soil enrichment/mulch? I practice the “chop and drop” method on patches of the sunchokes I don’t want around anymore. Their stalks are semi woody and help add humus to the soil as well as shade for it during the hot summer months here in zone 9. I’ve actually finally managed to eliminate a patch using this method.
Free soil building grown at home? Maybe so. I’d encourage all of you to try it. The tubers will eventually run out of energy to produce new shoots and you’ve got some lovely loamy soil come the next season(s).
I have not tried that, but it sounds like a good idea.
I have a small electric chipper and when I first go through my patches of ‘chokes I pull the tops and remove what roots come with. I run them through the chipper and toss the chips over the patches. When I go back over digging for the deeper roots I mix the chips into the soil. They break down faster and better than trying to compost the whole stalks, especially the 12′ Fuseau stalks, those monsters take forever to breakdown otherwise. The other varieties I have grow to about 5′ to 8’ tall and aren’t quite as big and tough as the Fuseau, but I chip them too.
Artichokes make an excellent very easy soup. I cook it without a recipe. Approx 2 cups of artichokes, scrubbed or peeled, an onion, a garlic clove or two, and about two cups of vegetable or chicken stock. Sautee the onion and garlic gently in butter or olive oil. Add the chopped artichokes, and then simmer in the stock for about twenty minutes. Add seasoning of choice, (a little salt and pepper and sometimes a few curry spices is usually my choice!) and then puree. Delicious and easy. We have often served it at dinner parties, but yes …. it is somewhat gassy for some people.
I just leave my artichokes in the ground, but away from flower or vegetable gardens. I have a rather shaded location here, so they have never been too invasive in my zone 5 Ontario garden.
Have you found any difference in the level of flatulence with different harvest times or storage techniques?
The pickles are GREAT! The fiber content, taste, nutritional value, crunchiness, and enjoyment…is not to be compared with any other pickle I’ve ever had. Ok…eat ’em…and there may be an increase in gas…just don’t wear tight leggings and tennis shoes…and you won’t blow them off! Bottom line is …you want some of the best pickles you’ll ever have while having to look for a place to hide while you blow one, or does your syshintor muscle need exercise? Pickle them..eat them..and enjoy!
Thanks for the tips. Will avoid leggings.
Oh yeah! on the pickles! We also canned some taco relish that’s delish and crunchy!
BTW, I’m 60+ and have had mild constipation for a long time. This year I dug the chokes as soon as the tops died off, before any frost because we wanted the full benefits of the Inulin. Regular helpings, nearly daily have loosened me up and the gas ‘issue’ is a non-issue now. When your gut flora get balanced out, things just get better!
I was doing some checking around on what to do about the gas for when we have company drop by and they could get ‘loaded for bear’, and I stumbled onto a medical protocol put together over the years by a doctor who treated AIDs patients. These people don’t die from AIDs, they die from other illnesses. He worked on building up their immune system and began focusing on making their guts healthy. Along the way, he found that changing the gut chemistry changed blood chemistry and that changed organ chemistry, including the brain. He’s expanded into treating developmental disorders in children and adults with Inulin, pure virgin Olive Oil and Fish Oil. SIBO is the term for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. The Inulin fixes the gut problem unless its severe, then special antibiotics are needed. The Olive Oil treats inflammation and the Fish Oil feeds the brain, helping to balance it’s chemistry further. Its not a cure, its a full time daily treatment for the life of the patient, the brain just doesn’t heal.
Do a search for ‘Dr. Nemechek’ and for ‘Nemechek Protocol’. Inulin can be real medicine!
I’m still looking for a way to help company that drops by at meal times to not suffer the gas issue from eating chokes.
Have you tried a product like Beano? Wondering how effective it is with different sorts of insoluble fiber.
Inulin can act as a pre-biotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut. As you mentioned, it’s when you don’t have the bacteria that are used to dealing with inulin that there’s an issue.
Hi Blaine Clark, Having difficulty posting response here; some security site takes over and blocks posting.
You are absolutely right, that inulin helps heal the gut; and, that a long list of various kinds of probiotics, are crucially imperative for good health, good immune function, good digestion.
Those who suffer gas attacks, have poor digestion, and need help…many will not “get it” that what they choose to eat/consume daily, Matters, so will keep eating what they want, not what they should…and will end up with litanies of health problems.
There are several ways to help reduce gas-attacks.
—American Health Super Papaya Enzyme Plus tablets: for infants with colic, crush one tab into powder and add to breast milk or formula, and it stops colic; adults can chew several of these minty tabs, to help digest their food, and to help control GERD.
—Take “sipping vinegars” [live culture vinegars] in water, about 1 to 2 Tblsp. in water, with food. This helps replace deficient digestive stomach acid…most with reflux, suffer from too little, not too much acid.
—Sequential eating [at any meal, separate foods into types: then, 1st eat simple carbs; 2nd the complex carbs, last, are the proteins. This helps someone’s system wake-up and produce it’s own enzymes to digest.
—Dice then long-cook the ‘chokes; make sure they got real cold 1st, to help the inulin and sugars in them develop; chilling, then long-cooking, decreases gas.
Blaine, Also, ‘chokes allowed to get chilled, or stay in ground during frosts, have less gas; then, dicing ‘chokes up small, and long-cooking, drastically decreases gas attacks severity and length.
I stopped digging mine up, just let them over-winter. We don’t get bad freezes in the PNW coastal regions, so can pretty much dig them up as-needed…lots less work.
I’d never heard of them losing inulin from staying in-ground? This never seems to be a problem. It’s easy to gauge how bad-off one’s digestion is, by how long and severe the gas attacks are. Our’s allowed to over-winter in ground, must still have plenty inulin in them, as we can still use them as a gauge of gut health!
I guess that I tend generally to be harvesting in the fall when the tubers have really fattened up, so they are certainly pretty gassy then. I have managed quite often to store the tubers either in my very cool porch or the fridge, because once we get freeze-up here, sometimes in late November, I can no longer dig them. I will have to think about the air production next fall when I harvest them!! My son used to grow them in Vancouver, which is zone 9 so they could really dig them year round. i will have to ask him if he noticed any difference. They do tend to be sweeter when allowed to experience a little bit of frost. Would that be because they are absorbing sugars from the dying leaves?
The sweetness after a frost is from the cold converting root starch into sugars. It happens with other root crops, too, like dandelions and parsnips. I never harvest my parsnips in fall, as the spring roots are much sweeter and more flavorful.
I’ve had no experience with sunchokes or comfrey at all. I have heard that they are invasive species. I’m not particularly worried though because my climate & soil will limit the spread of just about any non-native plants introduced in this area.
I have heard that many other plants are invasive, such as any plant in the mint family, Chinese wisteria, Rosa rugosa, etc. I’m finding it difficult to get those plants established here though.
I live in south central Texas. We have long, hot, dry summers coupled with moderately cold, short, wet winters. We don’t have 4 seasons down here. If you blink you’ll miss spring & autumn, they’re that brief. This area was once the bottom of a shallow inland sea, so the soil is quite alkaline because we’re sitting on top of a large limestone formation. I have topsoil that varies from 6-24 inches in depth covering clay subsoil of unknown depth. The topsoil is nice, dark & loose rather than a hard pan type soil. I have learned from experience that it is quite fertile & can be cultivated for a couple of years before needing ammendments. I’m going to experiment with daikon radishes to help break up the clay subsoil in places where I plan to plant perennials. In other words, where I want to plant invasive plants. The limiting factors will be the ubiquitous limestone plates & boulders that are ‘floating’ beneath the soil surface & the arid climate. I feel almost 100% certain that any invasives I plant will stay put where I plant them.
Given your situation, I do believe that you are likely correct.
I have experience that delightful weather pattern for a decade while living near Wichita Falls TX. Didn’t have any problem with invasives other than licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra ). I had a herb garden with an assortment of herbs that eventually gave up the battle of heat, drought and grasshoppers, that is all but the licorice. Our entire property was hard clay and what few decorative plantings that I had existed only because I had them inside chicken wire, otherwise the chickens ate them. The only thing that prospered was the licorice, three small plants multiplied, taking over the area of the herb garden about 100 sq ft, all adjacent paths, traveled under the parking pad of more than 20 ft, to “joyfully” grow in the beds and grass there. Every one of the last 5 years I pulled it up all during the long summer ( What Spring? What Fall?) and it still would come back. I am convinced that the roots lived under the house foundation and sent out new plants every year. Now I live in NM and know better, no licorice ever again.
Good to know. Thanks for sharing your experience.
You asked about other invasive plants. Top of my list is lemon balm. Never, ever plant it! It spreads by both roots, as a mint, and also readily by seeds. Get it in the garden, or anywhere near it, and you’ll never get rid of it. It will take over. Instead, grow elmon verbena, which has a better flavor, and grows into a lovely bush!
At least lemon balm smells nice. 🙂 It loves to roam around my garden, too, but I don’t mind. I’ve tried lemon verbena, but it never seemed to thrive.
I am in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. My sunchokes are between the foundation and a walkway. They stay contained within this area. My problem is that they flop over instead of standing up thereby blocking the walkway. Any suggestions.
I’d probably put stakes at intervals in the patch and tie a cord between them to hold the sunchokes upright.
Mine crowd my walkway too. I have some 12′ Fuseau type that are pretty tough, but when the wind blows, they take to leaning. Options are;
Hill up around the stalks to give them more support.
Give them some fertilizer that will build the upper portion of the plant.
Give them whatever physical support you can, as mentioned, stakes and cords could work.
I tried growing sun chokes 30 years ago as I liked them …. Never saw a one. 2, maybe 3 years ago I found what I thought was Helenium or perennial sunflower growing in my front garden I left it alone. Then later I saw at Douglas fir same leaf I dug…and sunchoke I thought how or where did this come from as I did not plant any in 30 plus years. Now I have problem in front garden, will see what happens at Douglas as I have red flowering dogwood close by for effect in winter. I want them out of my garden bed as they will cause problems in small area due to dwarf trees, bushes. I do not want to poison due to my other bed plants so do I start now digging up ?? They could have had the whole outside road area and grown for 3 decades with no problem save rocks
How would this happen to come my way….I do not believe anyone in area grows this, could it have come in plant? Trailer park down road would not be allowed to have these grow…. I would happily give it road if I can save my bed…. I will start digging now, pray???? NE Pennsylvania…woods
They are native to some areas and will simply show up on their own. You can dig them or use some the natural weed control options listed on the site at https://commonsensehome.com/natural-weed-control/, like the vinegar weed killer spray, which is non-toxic.
Oooo! Red flowering dogwood? That sounds gorgeous! Where might anyone find those?
How would those ‘Chokes get to your yard? Likely, a bird ate berries from some ‘Choke plants, and deposited their effluent on your yard…the seeds likely survive birds’ digestion, kinda like some tomato seeds can…and weed seeds, etc..
I deliberately planted ‘chokes, and, have never had to buy any since. BUT…trying to prevent them returning, is another game. They can spread by root and seeds.
They’re really a terrific “survival food” plant, because they are so …durable? And nutritious. BUT..they have quirks! I’ve learned a few things [besides how hard it is to dig root veggies out of rocky soil!]:
1. Keep them planted in a big tub of easy-to-dig dirt, not the ground…it helps limit them to where you want them, and acts as a raised-bed, making it easier to deal with.
Seems ours always have a few leftovers in the dirt, which over-winter well, and regrow a full tub of ‘Chokes.
2. After the upper stems get almost as tall as they will, and BEFORE they form berries, cut the stems to half-height, or just below where flowers are. This helps prevent spread by seeds from the berries.
3. It’s almost impossible to dig up all of the roots! Letting them start growing, so you can find them, helps locate them…that’s when to dig them up, if you want them gone. This might leave traces of roots, but, simply letting them start growing their upper stem/plant, helps find them to dig up.
4. NEVER just heap them onto a compost pile thinking they will rot-down…they get real happy in compost piles!!! I’m dealing with that, now…luckily, it’s fairly easy to pull them up out of the piles of oak leaves [oak leaves Supposedly thwart growth…clearly, the ‘Chokes didn’t get that memo].
5. Forget about digging them up then having to find room to store them safe through winter…we simply leave them in the dirt in their tub, and dig up some as needed…faaar less work! AND, the cold in winter [with several inches of mulch on top], helps drastically reduce the gas-attack feature of ‘Chokes. So does cooking them for a longish time.
6. Do everything you can to AVOID poison…it will always end up poisoning the wrong thing, and, it’s toxic, long-term, to living creatures, as well. So it might harm your wanted plants, more than it harms the unwanted ones….speaking from experience!
re dogwood. I don’t know about Michelle’s dogwood. but for mine – I’d have to hunt to see if I still have the tag – it has creamy white flowers and sparse white berries. It’s the wood that’s red. I had thought it would look nice in winter but it’s far enough off in a corner that I rarely notice it. I would imagine it would show itself off more if it got sunlight when everything is snowy, but, alas, I am not the north side of a hill and get no sun when its leaves have died off. I did discover that it’s as good as my bone for predicting rainy weather. When it was small I thought it was sick because all its leaves had folded closed. I discovered the leaves fold when it’s getting ready to rain. Pretty cool, eh?
Who knew? That is very cool!
IDK where I’d plant one here…but maybe eventually. Plants are wonderful, Imho…but, I get about plants, the way some get about shopping sewing, or crafters. Shopping can get dangerou$! So, I’ve leaned more towards finding plants I can transplant fairly easily, instead of buying.
Just fairly well covered front yard with edible, medicinal and native plants, to vastly decrease what needs mowed. Those’ll take some years to get really established.
More years, to hedge-height…a row each, of: lilacs, elderberries, laurel shrub starts, a willow tree, & a Japanese pink willow shrub. Once full-grown should give us privacy & some wonderful color/aroma. A [Russian?] olive tree is getting happy, & looks like it will trim into whatever shape wanted, so far; it’s about doubled in size over the past 2 seasons…this fall, there were plenty of leaves to pick and dry for herbal medicine.
Our lot has quirky sun angles…sun hitting front yard, doesn’t seem to make that area as hot as sun hitting the back yard. Been watching that phenomenon for 4 years, and still can’t quite figure how it does that.
Here, Vine Maple trees can be good weather predictors…dramatic drooping things, never get large trunk. I want to find one to plant in the back. The redder the fall color, and earlier that color shows, tells: The earlier the Vine Maple leaves turn red, the earlier the first hard freeze will be that winter; the redder those turn, the harsher the freeze.
Sorry to hear of your dilemma. I have a red dogwood too. I guess the best thing to do is to watch for any shoots coming up and dig when they do. I’ve never dug under my 20+ yr dogwood but would imagine the roots are quite tangly based on how many shoots they’ve made over time. Perhaps someone has better ideas. Point I wanted to make was 30+ years ago I planted some violets. They did okay for a couple years and died off. They were in a raised rockery bed. About 4 years ago one little one popped up about 6-8 feet from where I’d planted them but it was below the first, almost two feet down and over. Last year surprisingly, a couple popped up a fair distance away and around the corner of my place – next to my neighbour’s fence. This year there are scads of them on the other side of my home. They got loads of water from ice and snow I’d pushed off the roof and are just loving their new home. How did they get THERE? It doesn’t sound likely that their roots would or could have traveled so far so I figure either birds or mice had something to do with their relocation. Birds carry lots of things especially if you have any scavenger birds such as jays, magpies or even crows. Squirrels are another option. There’s no real way of knowing if the chokes you have now are new or migrants from years ago. I’ve had a number of things pop up a long way from where I originally planted them – I used the violets as an example. Anyone reading this that knows if ALL violets are edible or not I’d love to know. I had some Italian violet candies once that were to die for. Good luck with the chokes.
I definately know what you are talking about 3 years ago i had a volunteer tomatillo come up in my onion bed so i let it grow harvested and kept seeds from it and have grown them every year since i live in zone 5 I’m not even supposed to be able to grow them but they are perfectly happy to grow on the south side of the chicken coop
Spray them with 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 2 tablespoons of dishwasher soap. Do it as often as needed, and they will give up sooner or later. Once they look dead, mow them with a low cutting lawn mower. Repeat as needed. They won’t last long.
Good ideas Randy Williams. But, can harm plants one wants, as well.
OR, if one lives where soil is naturally a bit acidic, most plants laugh at vinegar, and simply grow better!
The soap in that recipe helps the vinegar and salt get into plants that have some protective coatings.
The salt’s really the more deadly ingredient. For gardens, it can linger there, until enough rains have washed it through to deeper soil levels. Salt lingering in soils can harm the wanted plants.
Thanks for the tip about adding salt and the soap makes sense too. I’m in Canada. Here regular white vinegar is 5% acidity and pickling vinegar is 7%. compare prices. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy the 5% and sometimes the 7%. I recently saw some ‘cleaning’ vinegar that was 10% but it was super expensive. Typical marketing to take advantage of people trying to not use chemicals.
When we were trying vinegar to kill weeds, the white vinegar from Costco [2 gallons go real fast!], the weeds drank it up like water…and thrived….nothing died. Then I starred asking those who know more [like commercial outfits that use vinegar to kill weeds]…all of those said, “must get the commercial-grade vinegar, which is upwards of 30% acidic, giver or take, for it to actually kill weeds.” We never learned where to get that..unsure I want to, since it would require protective clothing and gear!!
But salt DOES kill weeds…and other plants, if it gets to those.
So does Borax made into a strong solution with water…though, grasses here, seemed to laugh-off borax…it killed off some creeping thyme [accidentally]. Loggers use borax to kill some weeds too…so it must kill some grasses, as well.
Regarding poke… An eccentric wine maker in the s.central Ozarks tried a folk remedy for arthritis. He heard that eating ripe poke berries would give pain relief. Knowing that they are poisonous he ate only one to see what would happen. After a few minutes he ate another and then another up to the recommended number of ten berries. Nothing happened to him and he said that after a couple of hours he noticed that his pain was gone. (He’s 80+ and also uses hawthorn berries for heart problem.) As a side note, poke root tonic is/was used for upper respiratory problems. I do not recommend trying any of this!
Thanks for sharing your story. And yes, we always note the material on the site is for informational purposes only. Folks should check with a trained healthcare provider before attempting the use of more potent herbal medications with high potential for side effects.
Poke root is medicinal. IDK about the berries. BUT..there IS toxicity features to some parts, depending on what plant.
A Doc I worked with, did some Chinese medicine, and prescribed a tincture of Poke root, in very controlled dosages, for a few patients. She emphasized to staff and patients, that this item can be toxic…handle and use with care!
That said….there are a number of plants called “Poke”. Various regions have different plants called by that common name. Therefore, it’s important to really carefully ID what plant you are looking at, that locals call “Poke”! Highly advisable to work with those who really know their herbals, and, how to properly use them!
I’ve had holy basil spread in a raised bed and beyond. Didn’t see that coming.
Huh. I would not have expected that. It dies out overwinter here.
I recently found a wild yellow flower, and I believe that it is a sunchoke. I live in South Western Ohio and I found it at work growing along the edge of a field on the tree/weedline by the river. I dead headed some of the older blooms, and the plants are loaded with more blooms. They are probably 4-5 feet tall. Any luck propogating them by seed or is tuber the way to go? I plan on covering the back field of my plant with them, it is wasted ugly field we have to constantly mow, and I’d much rather look at these than drive a tractor in the heat of the day mowing!
The tubers spread so easily and vigorously that they would be my default choice. Even damaged or partial tubers are likely to regrow. Since you’re simply trying to fill an area, there would be no harm in seeing if you can get the seeds to catch, too.
I was just given some small tubers but it’s definitely after last frost here in Michigan. Do you know how should I store them so I can plant them in the spring?
You can try keeping them in your refrigerator produce bin, but make sure they aren’t too moist or they will mold. If root cellaring is an option, packing them in leaves and keeping them in the root cellar may also work. Even though it’s past frost, you might try planting half and saving half, in case the ones in storage don’t keep. Modern fridges are often so airtight that they don’t breath well for veggies.
Plant them now. They survive from zone 8 to 4 and some will make it through zone 3 winters without mulching. Storing them is risky. When the soil reaches about 50℉ they are stimulated into sprouting.
If the Sunchoke is so plentiful why are the so expensive?
Seems to be a good commercial venture for someone.
They’re so expensive because they are very labor intensive to harvest and clean. Dirt loves to cling in every little nook and cranny. They also don’t store particularly well. If you try to stash them in the fridge or root cellar for winter (for ease of access), they like to grow fur and rot.
The high prices are just because it’s the made up novelty of them. They used to be well known and very common. In and around my town I know of at least 12 patches in flower gardens and wild, but very few really know what they are. They’ve just been forgotten. As for storing them, we can them; plain like potatoes, pickles, relish and salsa. I just dried some and we’re going to try grinding them into flour.
Limited supplies of ’chokes, always make high prices. But, they’re so easy to grow, so durable and persistent, they are really a survival food!
Trying them ground into flour sounds interesting…it should work pretty well, and, gluten free!
You may need to add ground chia seeds, or some other binder like Xanthan gum, to stick it together when used for bread-like foods, otherwise, like most GF flours, it tends to crumble.
Never thought of canning them. But then, I don’t can much, as that sure is labor intense!
Been drying most produce, as more can fit into a canning jar, then get vacuum-sealed. Much lighter weight, loads fewer jars. Alt., vacuum-pack into bags. Sure helps tame a pantry size!
Ruth, ….Likely, sunchokes sold in stores cost more, due to a few layers of middle-men hiking prices over grower’s price, every step until the store marks them up to gain a profit, too.
And, that there are no large growers, that I know of.
Small growers = limited supplies, which has always increased prices on commodities.
The person who thinks they are labor intensive?
I don’t think so.
Maybe in whatever climate they grow them, but in climates like our Pacific NW coastal-climate, they do fine. I leave them in the bin to grow, wait for stalks to start dropping flowers; then, berries start forming–that’s when I cut off upper stalks, leaving lower stalks with some leaves, to finish growing the sunchokes. That way, falling berries won’t spread this aggressive grower.
When weather chills, stalks brown & droop; I cut them down to top of soil…and leave the ‘chokes in the dirt.
Winter freezes chill them, nicely reducing their gaseous-action in the gut. The other part of reducing the gas-attacks from them, is to chop fine and cook well.
Those whose gut makes most gas from eating ‘chokes? That means they desperately need to eat more of these, to allow their gut to heal…then, hardly, if any, gas forms.
The Inulin in ‘chokes, heals gut lining, helps probiotics thrive…which helps digest foods far better.
Storing them if dug-up?
Ours did fine in a dry produce drawer in bottom of frost-free fridge, for almost a year.
They just took up a lot of room needed for other things. Our fridge was set to be as cold as possible without freezing, and, frost-free.
IF a fridge is damp inside, like chest freezers converted into fridges are, I don’t think they’d last as well…too damp. If they are allowed to hard-freeze–that breaks them down and rot can happen once thawed…texture suffers, too.
So, drier cold, ..almost freezing but not…seems key to longer storage. Some few will try to rot…just remove those. But even some from stores, have stored in our produce drawers for many months, without spoiling. I started our bin with ‘chokes from our local CoOp grocery, several years ago.
Or, leave them in their planting bin, under dirt, roots intact, & dig some up as needed.
We’ve been doing that for 2 years now, and it’s working great, so far.
Bonus #1: No created storage.
Bonus #2: Far less gas-attacks.
Bonus #3: Chopping off upper stalks seems to stop them forming flowers and berries…at least it did this season.
Bonus #4: Overall, Far less labor.
Laurie Neverman said she thot ‘chokes are Labor intense due to dirt? I don’t think so at all.
Plenty of root crops have that feature; with a bucket of water & a scrubby brush, that dirt comes right off…at least ours do….they’re planted in loose compost-potting soil, no clay, though…maybe that’s a difference?
We had to replace our old fridges (large and small), and both new fridges are too blasted tight to store anything that needs respiration properly. As an added bonus, the main fridge also has cold spots, so if you show anything too close to the back in the wrong location, it freezes. Total pain in the butt, and it has damaged a fair amount of produce. The produce bins are tiny, too, in comparison to my old fridge. Still, both fridge had enough humidity that my sunchokes did not keep well. Maybe I have a different strain of sunchokes? For roughly the same amount work, I can get a lot more potato, and my family likes potatoes better. But that’s just us – your mileage may vary. The potatoes keep better in the root cellar, too.
Chimonger! Right on! I’ve been taking an Inulin supplement daily along with occasional helpings of ‘chokes for the past year and my guts are so much better than before. OH! At first there was the gas, but after a good week or two of daily use, it passed … pun intended! As I posted above, we can ours early in the fall before the Inulin can convert due to freezing.
There are three main sources for commercial Inulin; Chicory root, Blue Agave and ‘chokes.
As for labor intensive, that depends on the variety. I have some Fuseau(?) that are shaped like carrots, no knobs and very easy to clean. I also have Stampede which are fairly knobby and of course much harder to clean.
I’ve lost track of what variety we have, but it’s a smaller root with lots of knobs, and the skin is layered enough to trap dirt in every cranny. That said, you two may still talk me into being a sunchoke lover – maybe. I’m glad you find them so useful and delicious.
Blaine , Laurie Neverman ,
IDK what kind we have…it was whatever the local COOp grocery carried in their produce isle several years ago–very irregularly knobby, usually. Russian?
They have tan/beige skins, and white meat inside. Stalks can get higher than 4’ to 6’.
Little flowers, when they had them, were lovely pale lavender/purple, with darker lines from the middles, and bright yellow centers.
Berries were almost black, no particular flavor…someone said it’s dangerous to eat those. This variety spreads by root, berries, and cuttings, making this variety rather aggressive spreader. Some get kinda large and convoluted, others are tiny, a few are a bit carrot-shaped.
2016, I cut the stalks about half-way, to prevent flowers and berries…those had started forming berries.
2017, I cut the stalks same way, but didn’t wait for flowers…maybe should have waited for flowers to start becoming berries…cutting the tops of the stalks stopped flowering or berries, entirely. Roots still did fine, as leaving the half-height stalks and leaves, provided the nourishment to the roots OK.
IDK if that will keep happening.
2018, I cut the top half of the stalks off, before flowers even set, because the bin was in a work area; the tall stalks kept getting in the way. Didn’t seem to make any difference to the roots.
Whether the plants stopped fruiting due to weather patterns changing, or, due to being cut before fruiting, IDK.
Just cooked up some in a stew…plenty good, very little gas-effect.
I really like letting them just stay in their bins, with their roots intact, and letting winter freezes do their job to develop the inulin, so I don’t have to!
The ‘choke inulin was something found while working alternative med. office….
Patients who got a certain meal replacement powder with it in, healed from dire gut health issues [like end-stage Chron’s Disease, for instance..dramatic story on that one, but Nutshell: total healing in 1 month…from “they want to cut out my guts”, to, “Now they tell me there must have been a mistake, that I never had Chron’s Disease!”]
What the modern medical system does to people’s digestive tracts is a travesty, so if anyone can learn to love sunchokes and consume them regularly, I’m all for it. Combine them with fermented food and you have extra good bacteria and the medium to feed them well.
Our sunchokes get really tall (probably 11-12 feet) and have significant yellow flowers and no berries. The bees love the flowers, so I don’t want to cut them. They are always loaded with buzzing, humming little garden guests. I have some video I should edit and get up on the site. Nearly every blossom had one or more bees on it when I caught the footage. The wind was heavy so the sound wasn’t great, and the clips are pretty short because I was using them on Instagram, but you can still see the abundance of bees.
Chimonger & Laurie, do a search on the term ‘Nemechek Protocol’. There are also several good Facebook groups concerning it. It uses daily doses of inulin or the antibiotic Rifaximin plus extra virgin Olive oil for inflammation, plus fish oil, higher in EPA for children or higher in DHA for adults. The fish oil helps repair some nerve damage. Dr. Nemechek developed this while treating AIDs patients. Other than the Rifaximin, everything is over the counter goods. There’s no multilevel marketing crap or anything like it. It will boost the autoimmune system which can positively affect several gut disorders and even developmental impairments. Dr. N. developed this to prolong health for his AIDs patients and it has great benefits for others too!
You can make wine from the roots and the flowers too. The wine I’ve made from the roots is a rather strong, earthy wine, not bad, but I prefer to use it for cooking. The wine I’ve made from the flowers is much more mellow and nice. I drink it as is or I’ll mix it with other wines to add a nice smooth earthy flavor.
Here’s how I made some onion soup;
4 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 + Tbsp of Olive oil
8 4″ sprigs of fresh English Thyme
4 4″ sprigs of fresh Peppermint
1 Tbsp Turmeric
1 cup ‘choke root wine
1 gal. water
Caramelize the onion with Olive oil in a frying pan for 45 minutes. In the last 10 minutes add the Thyme, Peppermint, Turmeric and ‘choke root wine.
Transfer to a stock pot and add 3 quarts of water and start to simmer. Deglaze the frying pan with a quart of water and add that to the stock pot. Simmer for 45 minutes.
For the root wine I use just the broth from 3 quarts of roots chunked and boiled, and for the flower wine I use the broth from 3 quarts of packed flowers boiled, each generously covered with water. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Add 4 lbs. sugar per gal. Add a handful of raisins for the natural yeast. Let work as you would any other wines. I don’t add citrus or anything else to the flowers, just flowers, raisins and sugar. The root broth will probably jell when it cools, that’s OK. As the yeast works the jell will fully liquify. As a plus, when the flowers are boiled or steamed, they resemble squash and are edible.
I made that soup as described… GHASTLY!
Blaine, do you really mean alcoholic ‘wine’? You don’t mention fermentation parameters, such as temperatures, time, and percent alcohol achievable. Or is it just a colloquial term?
It looks like the plants are infested with powdery mildew in the picture with the children.
Most other articles about sunchokes I’ve read praise them for being free of disease.
So far only one of all the people who commented has mentioned mildew.
I raised sunchockes for a couple of years in upstate NY back in the early eighties and don’t remember having a problem.
But in East Tennessee my sunchockes planted in full sun (in reasonably good soil augmented with a bit of compost) were overrun with powdery mildew the very first year mid-season. I had manually weeded around them until they created enough shade to crowd out weeds near them. I didn’t notice any mildew on other plants before it popped up on the sunchockes …
Have other readers experienced mildew problems?
Any good preventions or remedies that are effective with sunchockes?
Please remember to mention your location and growing conditions. Thanks!
Powdery mildew regularly pops up in my garden as the season goes on. Heavy rain is very common in fall. I don’t worry about it, because the season is winding down, but if you wanted to reduce it, I’d trying treating leaves in early morning with activation compost tea or effective micro-organisms, to crowd out the problem fungi. If there anything that can be done to improve air circulation and keep leaves drier, that may help, too.
Wolfman, west-central Pa., zone 5. We had a very wet summer in 2018 and it looks like another is setting up for this year. In years previous to ’18 I almost always had some powdery mildew somewhere, Peonies, Sunchokes, squash, pumpkins and more. It never harmed the plants. Last year it was super heavy because of all the rain and still didn’t cause any harm. It just doesn’t look good is all. I’ve seen some home remedy recipes for spraying plants and preventing mildew, but I have no idea if they work.
Other invasives include, lemon balm, bee balm(monardara), any mint, morning glory, and milkweed(good for monarch butterflies). All of these can successfully be grown in pots. 😎
I’m not too sure about Lemon Balm in pots not spreading. It spreads by seed as well as by root. I’m on a 1 1/2 city lot and started it in a pot. It got started alongside the garage in some Germander and I let it take over the whole corner between the garage and the house. It shows that it would love to spread into the yard, but 3″ – 4″ mowing keeps it in check. I deliberately started Peppermint along the house foundation for insects and of course, it too loves to try to spread into the yard. The only real problem I have with them in the yard is that when I mow, for some reason the odors make me so-o hungry!!
The house is far enough away from the neighbors I haven’t seen the Lemon Balm spread that far by seed and mowing keeps the runners from spreading far. One neighbor does have some Garlic Mustard that popped up under a pine tree. It’s just a matter of time.
Thanks for the warnings on the Sunchoke’s invasive nature! I was considering planting a couple at my summer job, but now I’m putting those suckers in pots so they don’t try to take over every sunny patch in the forest.
Well, they are edible and are used by a number of different species for food, but they certainly tend to be space hogs. We now have several different patches that have started up around the yard from damaged roots tossed into the tall grass. This fall I’m purposefully bringing some out to what we call “The Badlands”, which is a sparsely vegetated area covered in subsoil from the pond excavation. We’ve been bringing our seed heads and some plants to start colonizing the area. We’ll see if they are up to that challenge.
‘Chokes are native to the eastern Great Plains. Sun lovers, they tend to die out if shaded. They were always planted on the windward side of fields, and pole beans were planted with them. All animals will eat them, even coyotes, if you leave them in the ground till spring. Inulin turns to sugar in cold, damp storage. In Europe and Asia, ‘chokes are used for the root and livestock forage. the roots are stored, and several months later, crushed for the juice,which is made into sugar. Baggasse, the remains, are used to fatten animals. this is one of the very best perennial garden plants.
Thanks, Red. Around here they are largely ignored, so it’s good to have some more background information.
” any other plants you’ve grown that want to take over your garden?” YES!! Garlic chives in my south-central Texas raised beds. The roots spread like crazy and make it hard for some other veggies plants to thrive. I also see some garlic chives sprouting under the deck (from when I had them in a pot and let them go to seed). Fortunately I love garlic chives. Maybe like your horseradish comment, I should plant some in the sunchokes dedicated raised bed? LOL!
My garlic chives died out in Wisconsin, but the regular chives are gaining ground in one of the retaining wall beds. Not much else does well in those beds, so i don’t mind them getting a little crazy, but this past summer I missed deadheading and I suspect I will see the result in spring.