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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.

sunchoke tubers

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.

Sunchoke patch @ Common Sense Home
Sunchoke patch

Here's a nice, innocent looking sunchoke seedling.

Sunchoke seedlings

Once we dig it up, we see that this single tuber is trying to regrow an entire sunchoke thicket.

Sunchoke root

Even tiny pieces, no bigger than the tip of my thumb, can regrow entire large, vigorous plants.

Demon sunchoke

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. 😉

Duncan and August under sunchokes

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.

Sunchokes, also know as Jerusalem artichokes, are promoted for their health benefits, but you need to plan ahead before adding them to your garden.
Sunchokes by Greenhouse PCA | 6 Live Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers | Fresh Sunchoke Bulbs for Eating or Planting
Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce, 3rd Edition
Sunchokes by Greenhouse PCA | 6 Live Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers | Fresh Sunchoke Bulbs for Eating or Planting
Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce, 3rd Edition
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Sunchokes by Greenhouse PCA | 6 Live Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers | Fresh Sunchoke Bulbs for Eating or Planting
Sunchokes by Greenhouse PCA | 6 Live Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers | Fresh Sunchoke Bulbs for Eating or Planting
$15.49
Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
$12.59
From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce, 3rd Edition
From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce, 3rd Edition
$16.51

Originally published in 2012, updated 2017.

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596 Comments

  1. Blenheim New Zealand – I have a raised bed on the north side(not much sun) they love it – spread as you say. I love them as a Potatoe replacement.

    1. I wonder if you have a shade tolerant variety! If you do, that could be boon to lots of folks that don’t have good sunlight! I have one tiny patch of one of my varieties in the shade of a huge Maple tree that normally grow nearly 8′ tall with red skinned tubers that look like small sweet potatoes. The ones in the shade only make it to about 3′ with tiny tubers and they’ve been there for several years, so they haven’t grown used to shade.
      I wonder what the rules are for sending the tubers from New Zealand to the US? I bet there are quite a few that would love to give these a try.

  2. I used to have a 10×10 above ground garden. I planted 1 sunchoke plant, not having a clue what it was, I just heard it gets about 10 feet tall. So, I planted it, it did get about 10 feet high. But because I was ignorant of what this plant actually is, I assumed it was a like an artichoke. When it didn’t produce artichokes, I was a bit disappointed, but I let it grow to see how tall it would get.

    The next spring, I broke off the stalk at the ground, and proceeded to till up the garden. Needless to say, I tilled up the roots system from that 1 plant, and in about a couple weeks, I had about a million little sunchoke plants growing. Each little piece of that root system started its own little plant. It took some time digging up each little piece of the tube. Every time I thought I dug them all up, a week later there were more!

    With all this being said, I sure wish I would have at least known about this to actually try to eat the root. Gonna make another bed dedicated to this plant and see how it goes..

    1. Oh dear.

      Did you ever manage to clear it out of your original bed? We now have small patches around the yard wherever I tossed damaged tubers in addition to our original bed. It’s a very determined plant.

  3. I bought some tubers off Amazon to help supplement my rabbit feed bill. Sounds like this will do the job. Can’t wait to get them growing. I have a patch of cleared ground near the rabbit colony where I plan to plant the tubers. I also have a honey beehive and hope they enjoy the flowers.

  4. Wowza, think I’ll skip planting Jerusulum Artichokes…that invasive spreading is right up there with the experience I have with 4 O’Clocks….they’re everywhere. Have to dig up tubers to stop the spreading and give them away. If you toss them they will multiply!! Pretty invaders….

  5. Wow, what an eye-opener! I’ve been considering planting sunchokes, but your post made me realize there’s so much more to it. The insights you shared about soil type and spreading tendencies really got me thinking.

  6. I’ve lived the past 40 years in high-rises in downtown Chicago. A year or so back, we moved into a two-flat on the northwest side. We have small yards front and back and a tiny 2×18′ garden area. Now, I’ve always enjoyed having morning glories, either on a small (1×3′) trellis in the dining room, or on my desk. I thought “gee, it would be nice to have some morning glories in the yard” and tossed some seeds in the back corners of the planting area. I had NO idea. Not only were these plants gargantuan (I’d guess the leaves were something like 20-30 times as large as the ones previously growing on my desk), but their tendrils were like somebody had released a green Kraken all over my garden. They totally bullied out the green beans, and have been trying to do the same to the peppers. I hope I can snag all the seed pods before they can plant themselves for next year!

    1. A bigger issue is the roots. Some of the morning glory family are annuals but the common (wild ) one has white long horizontal roots that will reshoot every year from any small fragment. So, if you don’t want them to take over, dig and dig everywhere in winter when most things are dormant and get them out. I speak from hard experience.

  7. I’m a first time sunchoke planter, luckily or hopefully, I planted them in a raised garden box 2×4.
    Im in Denver CO and they’ve been growing like crazy. Looking forward to harvesting in the fall.

    1. I’m also in denver. I’ve read that they can be planted in the fall or spring. but nothing mentions when to plant for zone 5b. what do you think? should I plant them now (November) or wait till early spring?

      1. They’re pretty durable in the soil. It think you’d be fine planting them in fall, as the damaged roots we tossed into the wild areas around the yard in fall sprouted the next spring.

  8. I beg to differ on storage. The vast majority of mine held up just fine packed in lightly damp sawdust outside in a crate, in the carport (no heat) loft. Outside temps here don’t generally go past -5 at night. Boise Mountains, Idaho. Only a couple handfuls went bad out of 3 sink’s worth. We harvested after the first couple of frosts, and now, at the end of April, I’m taking what we didn’t eat and putting them in the freeze dryer.

  9. Thank you for this post and extensive thread! Lots of great info here — thanks everyone for sharing!

    I planted one sunchoke and was planning to plant several more, but might try some in pots/growbags instead to mitigate spread.

    Evelina — sunchoke kimchi is a great idea!! There are “water kimchis” made with vinegar and I imagine that would also be a good way to use sunchoke, which would also help presumably cut down the gaseousness effect even though it hasn’t been cooked (or frozen).

    =
    There is a theory that whatever is growing wild (or out of control) around you is there to benefit you. To that end, we have a Lot of vigorous BURDOCK growing here, which is Great for your liver and the whole plant is edible. I have not yet had success harvesting any roots (they come up mushy rather that firm), and instead I buy the roots at the store to cook and just eat some of the bountiful leaves here. They are super bitter, but so good for you. The younger, smaller leaves are softer and more palatable than the very thick larger leaves. I’d love to hear any suggestions for ways to prepare burdock leaves so I can get the family to also eat them. Maybe tomatoes/sauce and parmesan could help with the bitterness. Or coconut milk… Or instead of grape leaves in dolmeh!

    The long burdock roots also help to work (decompact) the soil, which dandelions also help with.
    This is a great explanation of the service that dandelion “weeds” provide to our yards balancing the soil nutrients and more, and how they go away on their own when they’ve finished the job: https://youtu.be/bpEy-Mpm6AI
    And a very brief explanation of how DANDELIONs can help prevent/rebalance Cancer https://youtu.be/Rxjsmc4f4Nc

    Another vigorous grower around here (central Illinois) is poison hemlock. Lovely, but poisonous, so I’ve been digging it up each spring and will hopefully stop the spread this year. If any of you have any insight as to benefits of poison hemlock, I’m curious to know if there are any…

    =
    Regarding the war against COMFREY — here is some additional information to reference as comfrey root might be something that would be directly beneficial to you or someone around you:
    *Comfrey Root for Receding Gums, Wounds and Cancer
    http://www.doctoryourself.com/gums.html
    http://www.doctoryourself.com/comfrey_herb.html

  10. What I’m hearing is that these would make a great gift for the nuisance neighbor? “Hey I saw these lovely flower bulbs and thought of you. I think you should plant them in the middle of your yard. I know how much you love sunflowers and these look just like them.”

    I just purchased sunchokes to put into the garden –so glad I read this article. I’ve rethought where I am going to plant them–and no, however tempting it is, it won’t be the neighbor’s yard!

    1. I have to say that idea might be tempting with some of my former neighbors, but they’d probably just whip out heavy duty herbicides – which is why I’m glad they are former neighbors.

      We’re out in the country, so we have numerous semi-wild areas in the yard. Over the years, I’ve tossed damaged roots in different spots. We now have patches of volunteer sunchokes all over they place. They were damaged and not even planted in the ground, and they still grew. At least I know we won’t starve, so there’s that.

  11. Sunchokes are a grazing decreaser. Animals love both leaves and roots. Tubers ferment well and go all right in stir fry meals. If a prepper, by all means raise a patch. American Indians let them in the ground till almost spring, then dug them. They get pretty sweet and are a good source of sugar.

    1. Unfortunately the ‘sugar’ is inulin, as in camas lily bulbs, which we can’t digest (hence the ‘fartichoke’ fame).
      I find it best to pressure cook them, then the skins slip off, with any remaining dirt, and I use the insides in a soup or dish. Thus, double cooked.

      1. I have friends who ferment them, too, to make them more digestible. Also, if you eat them regularly, your gut biome shifts, and favors microbes that help break them down so gas decreases.

  12. I use them in kimchi, too. But, every dog I ever had loved the leaves. Not so much the roots, but the leaves. No sign of worms, either, and other than stealing water melons and kumquats off the tree, this is pretty much it.

  13. Thank you for this, fabulous, article on Sunchokes. I was thinking of planting them along a fence line, along a field. I’ve a TON of gophers and ground squirrels, do you think those little buggers would keep them in check, or would they eat them all up, and I’d end up with nothing?

    1. It depends on the population pressure, but I don’t think they’d be able to eat them all once the patch gets established. Ours have been popping up around the yard from where I tossed damaged roots, with no signs of stopping. The neighbors have woods right next to their patch and don’t loose many to varmints.

    1. I LOVE kimchi! I get radish kimchi from a farmers market in Ashland Oregon, it’s fantastic. Sunchoke kimchi sounds pretty good.

  14. I grew sunchokes ( as well as horseradish) in a dry garden that got at most 15 inches of water per year, mostly as snow in the winter. This garden is almost straight sand, so that might be part of the solution as well. They didn’t spread out of control and were actually very nice plants. The sunchokes spread by about two inches per year under those conditions. The roots were small.

    1. They can tolerate quite a bit of drought. In west-central PA. we rarely get dry summers and with too much rain they can get pithy, tough with a honeycomb interior. My one patch was started on an old shale bed driveway. I got a cheap-o 1.25″ chipper and after pulling the stalks and what tubers came up with them, I chip the dry stalks and scatter the chips over that patch. When I go after the rest of the tubers with a sod fork, that turns the chips under very well. After a few years that soil built up nicely. That could help build up your sand and hold some moisture for you. My other patches are in decent soil. They all do quite well.
      I’ve got three varieties. One spreads tubers 4′ in loose soil. That one can get out of hand easily! Another spreads about 20″ to 24″ and the last one only spreads about 8″ to 10″ per year. They don’t need good soil to produce, but the better the soil, the better they produce and the larger the tubers.

    2. Forgot to mention, if you can water them, moderate watering from late September through October and perhaps a bit in November, when the tubers are forming will help. When the flowers are in full bloom until the stalks start to die is the target watering time. Your schedule may differ from mine as for the months but from solid bloom until stalk withering is key.

  15. In my garden I have two comer-backers every year: marigolds that seed indiscriminately and tomatillos. My husband used to call tomatillos “toma-t-weeds” because they were so prolific. One dropped fruit will sprout 50-60 plants in the spring!

    1. I haven’t planted tomatillos in several years. I just think them out or replant them to where I want them in a particular year. Borage is the same way for me, but so far no self-seeding marigolds.

  16. In south Texas we have an abundance of sunshine and loose sandy loam; Perfect for sun-chokes to thrive.
    Planted about a dozen along the neighbor’s fence with the hope that the tubers would swell and raise his cracked driveway, which came right up to the fence.
    The tubers did the trick.
    Especially, as the rain run-off from his carport roof kept the plants well watered in the easily drained soil.
    The plants kept coming back year after year and harvesting was always plentiful.
    Unfortunately, after a disagreement with my neighbor, he purposefully washed his carport with gasoline and the runoff killed all my sun-chokes.
    I’ve just ordered more tubers and will try planting them along the other neighbor’s fence-line.

  17. Laurie, thanks!
    I figured there had to be some Lacto breeds on raisin skins. When I make the Topinambor wine and toss in the few raisins there seems to be at least a double stage to the fermenting. I use jugs and drill a hole for 1/4″ tubing. I glue one end of the tubing into the jug lid and drop the other end into a jar full of water. When the fermenting starts there’s usually a fast bubbling for a few days then it tapers off to a slow but steady bubbling for up to a couple weeks+. When that stops I give it another few days to see if it’ll bubble any more. When there haven’t been any bubbles for several days after the second stage is when I open it up and bottle the brew by siphoning. I like this visual aid to the fermenting process.
    I go 100% natural and don’t use the fermentation killer chemicals like Camden. I figure if that stuff kills yeast and bacteria in wine making it’ll also kill them off in the guts.

    1. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there has been a small amount of research/interest in reviving wild yeast meads for their probiotic and medicinal values. I read some years ago about a company using wild brewing commercially, but haven’t seen anything more recent.

      We made our first wild yeast mead last year and it was amazing. I tried an elderberry variation this year and may have gone a little heavy on the berries. It’s okay, but not amazing. Well, not for us. It’s a little dry for our tastes, whereas the first brew was effervescent and lightly sweet.

      I’m sulfide sensitive, so don’t use the yeast killers, either.

      1. The wild mix can be so different from batch to batch, but I’ve never had a bad batch, some better than others, but never bad. My wife is sulfide sensitive too, it can flare her asthma, give her fever blisters and on rare occasions a bit of a rash.

    2. Cannas are great in a hidden garden. All part of the plant are edible. Seeds make tortillas, leaves are food wraps, when young cooked as a green, new stalks are called Inca asparagus. Indians in the north dug them up and dried them, saving the best in silo storage pits.

      Women owned the land and fields, and they were the only ones allowed to decide what plants to grow and develop, which is why all our food is both very functional and also very pretty. Amaranth, for example, is a great one for hidden gardens. the leaves are good, if you like spinach-taste, and it produces as much grain by weight as a stalk of maize. Wild amaranth is green. For the flower bed or field, domesticated is red with red or gold masses of flowers.

      In Arizona, here, canna is a perennial but need wind protection. It’s almost pest free, even in south america where it originated and one ranch alone plants something like 30,000 acres (Brazil) every year for the starch trade. Edible ornamentals are how to garden in the midst of a famine.

      1. We have plenty of space here so I don’t *need* to hide the food in the landscape, but I always find it fascinating to learn about other foods that aren’t staples in our area. A good portion of our land is food forest in progress, and we keep adding layers as the years go on. It would have driven our old neighbors back in the ‘burbs nuts, but out in the country it just looks like semi-wild areas. And the family knows what plants are edible that the general public likely wouldn’t recognize as such.

        1. I live on the edge of a village in a wide spot in a canyon. When we first moved here, few people were gardeners let alone preppers. We were always getting compliments on the pretty plants in the garden and asked what they are. Sweet potatoes, red amaranth, tepary beans, rosemary, thyme, purslane, canna lily, and so on. Winter is canna, nasturtium, coriander for cilantro, red flowering winter peas, bunching onions and so on. Everything is food that hides as an ornamental. There are wolfberries (American goji), salt brush, jujube, sunchokes covered in yellow flowers, dates, figs, citrus. Most is old-school American Indian style of garden, pretty but tasty. I’d like some sand cherries, as well but it’s zone 9 and while they do well as far north as zone 3, donno about here. A hidden garden is a garden hiding out in the open. Many folks in the area are doing theirs that way. God’s peace to you.

  18. I have blood sugar issues and sunchokes were recommended to help get inulin in my body. It will help the good gut bacteria to grow. My husband and I now love sunchokes. They are $5 to$6 at our local stores.

    I am going to find a place to grow them. The advice of all the posters will be heeded. Thanks everyone.

    1. I hope they work out well for you.

      You might also find the book, “Cultured Food for Life” helpful. I just started reading it, and it’s a keeper.

      Donna (the author) gets into health impacts of cultured foods – and combining them with prebiotic foods. So much of our overall health gets back to our gut health. I’m hoping this will be one of the missing pieces my family has been looking for.

      1. I recently read an article telling about using fermented ‘choke to culture fresh milk. It’s supposed to make a smoother, healthier raw cheese curd. I didn’t find any details but since I occasionally brew ‘choke wine, I may be forced to try this.

          1. It’s the use of Lactobacillus cultures that the Inulin in the ‘chokes grow that the scientists were working with. The same strains of Lactobacillus that grow in the large intestine will ferment tuber broth. The question I have is whether the way I set up my fermentation uses natural yeast or if some natural Lactobacillus ‘contaminates’ my batches. I sterilize everything, boil the tubers, strain off the broth and add sugar water until my fermenter is full. I then toss in just a few raisins for natural fruit yeast, cap and let it go. I’m wondering if there’s any natural Lactobacillus on the raisins that ferment the Inulin. I haven’t found anything that states if there’s any Lactobacillus on raisins.
            I don’t remember which source I found the cheese curd info in and I’ve done a few searches to try to narrow it down, but without much luck. A hint for searching domains for specific information is using this format in a browser’s address bar:
            site: sciencedirect.com “Helianthus tuberosus”+”cheese”
            site: nih.gov “Helianthus tuberosus”+”cheese”
            site: researchgate.net “Helianthus tuberosus”+”cheese”
            Start off with site: followed by the base domain, without any https:// or www. followed by the search terms in quotes with multiple terms tied together with +, no spaces. To exclude a word or term from the search results us the – sign. Google and DuckDuckGo accept this form. I’m not sure if any other search engines do.
            I did a quick cruise through and a couple of the sites returned quite a few hits. These were – I think – the sites I was looking over that day.

          2. I found an interesting discussion of grape/raisins yeast on The Fresh Loaf:

            “Grape skins, like the bran covering on grains, provide a natural biofilm of microorganisms, most of which have names quite foreign in the baking world. Two of them – Kloeckera and Hanseniaspora – together account for 50-70% of the yeast, with the balance made up of a variety of other genera – Candida, Metschnikowia, Cryptococcus, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula… In wine lingo, these flora are collectively referred to as the non-Saccharomyces yeasts. Indigenous strains of our old friend Saccharomyces cerevisiae are also present, but in very low numbers by comparison. And yet, S. cerevisiae is by far the most important.

            In the beginning of a typical wild fermentation, non-Saccharomyces yeasts take off. Their initial flush is short-lived, however, and after about the first two to four days of fermentation, they start dying. They require more vitamins than S. cerevisiae, and vitamins are in limited supply; they are less tolerant of alcohol than S. cerevisiae, and S. cerevisiae is a more prolific producer of alcohol; they have a slower growth rate at typical fermentation temperatures than S. cerevisiae, and so are less competitive. In other words, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is just all-around tougher and less demanding. It is a better contender over the long haul, and so it rises valiantly to the top.”

            They have a nice chart of typical yeast growth patterns, and brief mention of lactic acid bacteria.

            “Oenococcus oeni is a species of lactic acid bacteria unique to wine ecosystems, and depending upon pH, may be the only one involved. It is the primary agent in malolactic fermentation later in the winemaking process. But lactic acid bacteria don’t take off until about two to three weeks after alcoholic fermentation is complete, giving us a nice window of opportunity to leaven bread without their interference.”

    2. Years ago, I got off gluten and within a week I felt a lot better. When Mom same to live with us, no more gluten! She (complained) about it (our word for Mom also means a mother wolf 🙂 but in a few weeks, her sugar was good, cholesterol normal, and she was going our to wedding parties and so on. No more open heart! Plenty of lemon and beans (not soy) helped.

      Sunchokes can be stored in a cold, moist drawer in the fridge or left in the ground to sweeten.

      1. And you can dehydrate raw ‘choke chips and make flour in a food processor. That’s gluten free flour! It’s heavy like Buckwheat flour and best mixed with other flours like rice or grape seed flour which still leave the product gluten free!
        We’ve mixed it into dough when we’re making pizza and it stiffens the crust so it doesn’t droop so much. There’s an example of what it’ll do texture-wise. I’ve tossed raw chips and chunks onto pizzas too. And they do store for quite a while in the fridge as long as they don’t dry out. They’ll shrivel and either dry up or go soft and rot. I’ve tossed whole smaller sized tubers and split larger tubers into jars with pickled eggs. They ain’t bad that way either! I’ve even put them into jars full of water and kept them in the fridge for a long time. They will take on a bit of a musty flavor after while, that’s when we toss them. I’m thinking of trying that with salt water in the fridge to see if that kills the musty taste or if they absorb salt. I’m wondering if I might end up with something similar to sauerkraut. I’ve also tried brine fermenting shredded ‘chokes in a crock at room temperature, but it only takes one day for them to go from sort of decent kraut to nasty musty. I might play around with that some more and increase the brine % since I know they’re very moist and make their own water. I tried a 3% solution that one time. I wish I had Granddad’s experience. He could take shredded cabbage layer by layer in the crock with a handful of salt between each layer, let the cabbage make it’s own water and turn out perfect kraut every batch. I just can’t get the mix right like he did.
        We love experimenting to see what all can be done with them.

        1. Make flour with canna lily roots. They have the second best type of starch known, and if refined down a little, make very good glass noodles. When the kids were little I made them for them and they had the giggles about eating invisible spaghetti. And of course the inevitable call from the school demanding to know why we were feeding the kids glass. After the incident with rat brain soup, you’d think they learned their lesson…

          Explanation: When age 5, the youngest, Susie the Squirrel, went on a pasta kick and refused to eat anything that didn’t have pasta. So, we made egg noodle dough (with wheat flour that time) just pinching off pieces of dough and dropping them in chicken soup.

          Susie gave it a suspicious look. “What is is? I’m not gonna eat that!”

          Her older sister, still in her teens but married, said, “Oh, it’s rat brain soup!”

          Susie ate till she couldn’t move. and the next day, the call… 🙂

          1. I’m laughing!!
            Cannas don’t make it in my zone 5, but they sure are pretty. I’ve got a bunch of day lilies started and scattered in a few places. Every bit of them is edible and when I get enough I’ll be excrementing around … I mean experimenting with them too!

  19. The way you ‘grew’ a new patch just by throwing broken bits over the fence, this may be a good plant to throw in an enemy’s yard! He’ll never get rid of it! (nasty, huh?)

  20. Will the leaves and stems of the Sunchoke root or are they safe to use as mulch in other parts of the garden?

    1. I used to compost mine in a separate pile but I discovered that they have allelopathic chemicals. That means that like Walnut trees and several other plants, they have a chemical that tries to retard germination and sprouting of competitors, even different varieties of ‘chokes. Since then, I got a small electric chipper/shredder and when the stalks are dry, I chip them and spread the chips over the patch where I pulled them. Either later in the fall or usually early in the spring when I get out the garden fork to dig for the deeper ones, I turn the chips under and they compost in the soil in the patch they came out of.
      I have one variety (white-tan skinned knobby)in an established patch and then rescued a sample of another variety (red skinned knobby) nearby. I mixed the new variety into the old patch but the new tubers didn’t do well for two years. They barely multiplied. That’s when I researched and found out that they’re allelopathic, even to their own siblings.
      You don’t want to mix those chemicals into your flower beds or vegetable gardens.

  21. i have a terrible problem with an ailanthus. do you think that the sunchokes will be a good competitor in the same area where i’m always having to deal with the shoots of the ailanthus? due to neighbor issues, i can’t get rid of the tree…

    1. We don’t have ailanthus here, but from what I’ve been reading, it’s so invasive that I don’t know if it or the sunchokes will crowd the other one out, or it will become a bigger tangled mess.

      Digging sunchokes would allow you to knock back the spread of the ailanthus roots each fall, but I think the two will be difficult to control.

  22. I just built a 4x8foot raised garden for these guys. It’s 2 foot deep and I put a weed barrier lining in it. I hope that’s enough to keep them contained… I plan on growing rutabagas in around them.

    1. Pole beans might be better. we don’t have to worry about the spread. If it doesn’t get watered (in the desert) it’s not going anywhere, fast. Worse case is, packrats and ground squirrels 🙂

  23. Great article about sunchokes, thanks for the forewarning! My grandma was just about to put some in her garden in Vancouver….

    Here in Alberta (Western Canada), Creeping bluebell (Campanula rapunculoides) is the bane of everyone’s existence. It’s established itself in all of the older neighbourhoods, and is impossible to get rid of! It spreads by seed and root, including any minuscule fragment of root left in the ground, you literally have to put the dirt through a sieve to get rid of it all. I’ve even tried pouring boiling water on it repetitively, didn’t work. Never ever purchase this plant! I can’t believe greenhouses are allowed to sell it.

    1. I wonder if there are amendments that could be added to the soil to stall out the rampant growth (and not harm other plants)? It’s not a species I’m familiar with, and since it’s not a wild species, my Weed Control Without Poisons book doesn’t cover it, but typically there’s something in the soil that causes one plant to flourish at the cost of others.

      1. Soil types and quality can be seen ion what weeds grow there. I use shovel psychology and that works. Undercut weeds about a half inch below the crown and leave the roots for organic ferrtilizer. Here, it’s rare they can regrow before it gets hot and dry for weeks. A heavy mulch is always good for soil insulation and to feed the plants.

    2. Here in Arizona, morning glories are illegal, as well, but nurseries carry seeds and plants. They’re prolific and toxic, but the roots are sweet and attract rodents. Bermuda grass will take over and choke out pastures, and it’s a lousy feed, a wire grass, but the state allows it. Happy spring!

  24. I’ve got three east coast varieties. Stampede, white Fuseau and Red Fescue, I’m fairly certain of the IDs. I collected the Red Fescue three years ago from a tiny patch along an alley. The patch was being destroyed so I nabbed a handful and tossed them into my Stampeded patch. The next fall when I harvested, the Reds were small, misshapen and few turned up. Last year was the same as was this fall. On a hunch I did a web search to find out if Sunchokes were allelopathic. Like Walnut trees, Jewelweed and a few others, they do indeed spread a chemical that retards germination and sprouting. These ones are not compatible.
    The grasses in the established patches have disappeared and any other weeds that grow in the patches are stunted. Creepers like Strawberries seem to manage OK as they spread into one patch where I have Strawberries along one side. This fall when I dug the Reds up, I put the Reds that I found in their own separate patch. I’ll see what they do next year.
    As a side note, several years ago I had a nice spread of Peppermint alongside the house. It keeps ants out. I figured I’d mix in some Jewelweed for a taller flower mix. Mistake! by the end of summer when I could have and should have made the last harvest of the mint leaves, the mint was almost gone! I ripped out Jewelweed sprouts for years and got the mint to spread back. So, if anyone has a run away patch of mint, scatter some Jewelweed seed around in it and the mint will be history. The Jewelweed is much easier to get rid of than mint.

  25. ” 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!

    1. 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.

  26. ‘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.

  27. 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.

    1. 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.

  28. 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. 😎

    1. 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.

  29. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  30. 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.

    1. 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?

  31. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!”]

          1. 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.

          2. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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!

  32. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  33. 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!

    1. 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.

  34. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  35. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  36. 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

    1. 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!

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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

  37. 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.

    1. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

          2. 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.
            Good luck!

          3. 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!

      2. 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?

        1. 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.

  42. 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).

    1. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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?

  45. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

  46. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

    2. 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].

  47. This might be a dumb question but where do I buy sunchoke tubers for planting? Using the same tubers I buy to eat? thanks!

    1. 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.

  48. 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)

    1. 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.

  49. 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.

    1. 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!

  50. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  51. 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

  52. 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! 😉

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

    1. 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.

  56. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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

      1. 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.

  57. 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!

    1. 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.

  58. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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”.

  59. 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.

    1. 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.

  60. 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.

    1. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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!!!

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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?

    1. 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.

  67. 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.

    1. 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?

  68. 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!

        1. 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. 😉

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

    1. 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!

  71. 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.

  72. 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!

  73. 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.

  74. i feel the same way about any herb related to the mint or onion family – container only unless you want to grow them everywhere

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

      1. 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

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

  79. 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

  80. 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.

    1. 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.

  81. 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!

  82. 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.

  83. 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!

  84. Dear Laurie,
    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!
    Rosemarie 🙂

  85. 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!

  86. 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.

      1. 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! :^)

  87. 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
    http://Www.smallbatchgarden.blogspot.com

  88. 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.

  89. 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?

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

    Ani

    1. 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.

  93. 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!

  94. 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?

  95. 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!

    1. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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!

    1. 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!

    2. 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~!

  100. 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).

      1. 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.

  101. 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.

  102. 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! 😉

  103. 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.

  104. 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

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

    1. 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.

  105. 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……

  106. 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).

  107. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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.

          1. 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!

  108. 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!

    1. 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!! 😉

    2. 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.

  109. 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!

    1. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. 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.

    Best,
    Casey

    1. 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.

  112. 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.

  113. 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!

      1. 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)?

        1. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

      1. Wow. I didn’t know about the Gardens Alive link to Monsanto. I will no longer go to them! Thanks for the information!

  114. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. 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! 🙂

          1. 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. 🙂

      1. 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

        1. 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!

          1. 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.
            But…
            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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

      3. 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

      4. 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.

      5. 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….

  117. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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

  118. 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!

  119. 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!

  120. 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!

    1. 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.

  121. 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.

    1. 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.

  122. 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.

  123. 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? 🙂

  124. 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.

    1. Oregano is part of the mint family. So is it’s cousin, marjoram. The entire family are voracious spreaders.

  125. 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!

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

  126. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. We planted Lemon Balm around a boggy area – helps keep the mosquitoes away! (and yes it smells wonderful when we mow)