Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple, are a nutritious and delicious addition to any meal. With their nutty and slightly sweet flavor, they make a great alternative to potatoes and can be prepared in a variety of ways. While they are traditionally grown in the ground, they can also be successfully grown in containers, making them a great option for those with limited garden space or who want to grow them indoors. In this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to grow Jerusalem artichokes in containers so that you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of these tasty tubers right from your own home.
- What Are Jerusalem Artichokes?
- Jerusalem Artichoke Varieties
- Why Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?
- How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes in Containers
- When Should You Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?
- What Kind of Soil Do Jerusalem Artichokes Need?
- How Much Sun Do Jerusalem Artichokes Need?
- When and How to Harvest Jerusalem Artichokes
- Final Thoughts
What Are Jerusalem Artichokes?
Jerusalem artichokes are actually quite poorly named. First, they aren’t actually artichokes, and they have nothing to do with Jerusalem. Contrary to their name, Jerusalem artichokes are root vegetables that are prepared and eaten much like potatoes and are native to North America.
Jerusalem artichokes are a member of the Asteraceae family, which includes other edible flowers like dandelions and artichokes, and have a striking resemblance to sunflowers. Because of this resemblance, Jerusalem artichokes are also known as sunchokes. Since these perennial plants are grown mostly for their tubers, they’re often treated as an annual.
Jerusalem Artichoke tubers look like a cross between ginger root and potatoes. However, they have a crisp texture similar to jicama if consumed raw; a starchy texture when they are cooked; and a flavor that varies slightly depending on the variety, from artichoke-like to earthy to nutty.
Jerusalem Artichoke Varieties
There are numerous varieties of Jerusalem artichokes, and their color can vary from red, white, and purple to even pale brown. Some varieties are knobbier, while others are smoother and easier to peel. Just as the color and texture can vary, the taste can differ from variety to variety as well.
A few notable varieties of Jerusalem artichokes are:
White Fuseau Jerusalem artichokes are a type of Jerusalem artichoke variety that is highly prized for its consistent size, uniform shape, and delicate, nutty flavor. They are typically long and slender, with smooth white skin and a slightly pointed end. The flesh is also white and firm, with a crunchy texture similar to that of a water chestnut. White Fuseau Jerusalem artichokes are known for their high yield and are a popular choice among home gardeners and farmers alike. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are a great addition to salads, soups, and stews. Because they are so versatile and easy to grow, they have become a favorite among gardeners looking for a low-maintenance crop that produces a flavorful and nutritious harvest.
Red Fuseau Jerusalem artichokes are a unique variety that stands out for their beautiful, deep red skin and creamy white flesh. Like the White Fuseary, they are slender and elongated, with a slightly tapered end, and have a firm, crisp texture that is similar to that of a water chestnut. The nutty, sweet flavor of Red Fuseau Jerusalem artichokes is slightly more pronounced than that of other varieties, making them a popular choice for both raw and cooked preparations. They are often used in salads, stir-fries, and roasted vegetable dishes, and their striking color makes them an attractive garnish or centerpiece on a vegetable platter. Like other Jerusalem artichoke varieties, Red Fuseau is easy to grow and produces a high yield, making it a great choice for home gardeners and farmers who want a low-maintenance crop that delivers a delicious and nutritious harvest.
The Stampede variety, also known as the Stampede potato, is highly valued for its large size, uniform shape, and sweet, nutty flavor. The tubers of Stampede Jerusalem artichokes are typically large and round, with a slightly flattened shape and a rough, brownish skin. The flesh is cream-colored and has a firm, crunchy texture that is similar to a water chestnut. This variety is a popular choice for cooking and is often used in soups, stews, and roasted vegetable dishes. In addition to its delicious flavor, Stampede Jerusalem artichokes are also known for their high yield, making them a favorite among home gardeners and farmers alike. They are easy to grow and can be harvested in the fall, making them a great addition to any garden or kitchen.
The Skorospelka variety originated in Russia and is well known for its small, round shape and delicate, sweet flavor. The tubers of Skorospelka Jerusalem artichokes are typically small, with smooth, reddish-brown skin and cream-colored flesh. They have a soft, slightly mealy texture and a flavor that is reminiscent of a cross between a potato and a sunflower seed. Skorospelka Jerusalem artichokes are a popular choice for raw preparations, such as salads or pickling, but they can also be cooked and used in soups, stews, and roasted vegetable dishes. They are known for their high yield and adaptability to various growing conditions, making them a great choice for home gardeners and farmers alike. Overall, Skorospelka Jerusalem artichokes are a unique and flavorful variety that is sure to add interest and diversity to any garden or kitchen.
Dwarf Sunray is a small variety of Jerusalem artichoke that is highly valued for its compact size, uniform shape, and delicious flavor. The tubers are typically round or slightly elongated, with smooth, tan skin and a crisp, crunchy texture. The flesh is cream-colored and has a sweet, nutty flavor that is similar to that of a water chestnut. Dwarf Sunray Jerusalem artichokes are a popular choice for container gardening or small garden spaces because they require minimal space and can easily be grown in pots or raised beds. Not only are they easy to grow, but they also have a high yield, making them a great option for home gardeners and farmers who want a low-maintenance crop that produces a delicious and nutritious harvest.
French Mammoth White:
The French Mammoth Whiteis a large and flavorful variety of Jerusalem artichoke that is highly valued by home gardeners and chefs alike. It is named for its impressive size, with tubers that can grow up to 4-6 inches long and 2-3 inches in diameter. This is one of the knobbier varieties of sunchokes, with white and firm flesh, with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is similar to that of an artichoke heart. French Mammoth White sunchokes are a popular choice for roasting, grilling, or sautéing, as well as for use in soups and stews. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, iron, and potassium and are considered to be a nutritious and healthy addition to any diet. They require well-draining soil and regular watering, but this variety is relatively easy to grow and produces a high yield, making them a great choice for home gardeners.
This variety, also known as the Passamaquoddy potato, is a unique and flavorful variety of Jerusalem artichoke that is native to North America. It is named after the Passamaquoddy Native American tribe, who traditionally used tubers as a food source. The Passamaquoddy Jerusalem artichoke is distinguished by its small size and irregular shape, with tubers that can vary in size and have a knobby, uneven appearance. The skin is usually a deep red-brown color, and the flesh is white with a crunchy, slightly mealy texture. The flavor of Passamaquoddy Jerusalem artichokes is sweet and nutty, with just a hint of artichoke flavor. They are a popular choice for roasting or grilling but can also be used in soups, stews, and other cooked dishes. The Passamaquoddy is relatively easy to grow and is known for its hardiness and resistance to disease. It is a great choice for home gardeners who want to enjoy a unique and flavorful crop that is rich in nutrients and history.
This variety is prized for its uniform shape, large size, and delicate flavor. It is named after Clearwater, a city in Florida where it was first developed. The tubers of Clearwater Jerusalem artichokes are typically elongated, with smooth, tan skin and creamy white flesh. They have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture that is similar to that of a water chestnut. Clearwater Jerusalem artichokes are versatile vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and are a popular choice for salads, stir-fries, and roasted vegetable dishes. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, iron, and potassium and are considered to be a nutritious and healthy addition to any diet. Clearwater Jerusalem artichokes are relatively easy to grow and have a high yield, making them a great choice for home gardeners and farmers who want a low-maintenance crop that produces a delicious and nutritious harvest.
Why Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?
Jerusalem artichokes are not only a healthy and versatile vegetable, but they are also quite visually appealing, making them a valuable addition to any garden. With their tall stalks, bright yellow flowers, and strikingly unique tubers, they add a touch of beauty and interest to any space.
Beyond their aesthetic appeal, Jerusalem artichokes are a great source of nutrition, containing high amounts of dietary fiber, iron, and potassium while remaining low in calories. They have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture that is similar to a water chestnut, making them a perfect ingredient in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and roasted vegetable dishes.
They are also incredibly low-maintenance, resistant to pests and diseases, and can improve soil health by providing a source of organic matter, making them an ideal crop for home gardeners and farmers.
How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes in Containers
Jerusalem Artichokes are one of many plants that can be grown in containers. All you need is a mixture of good-quality compost and garden soil.
Like potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes are grown from tubers and not seeds. So, first, you need to find a reputable seed company to purchase your tubers. We suggest first-time growers start with French Mammoth White Jerusalem Artichokes solely because they are prolific and for the best success plant in early spring.
If growing your Jerusalem Artichokes in containers, a regular potato grow bag is ideal. All you have to do is make sure that you find a sunny spot to place them and make sure you position them where they won’t overshadow the rest of your plants.
Combine native garden soil with compost or potting soil in equal proportions in a large container. The native soil will not only provide nutrients, but also give the container a bit of weight to prevent the plant from toppling over as it grows.
Fill a 5-gallon grow bag to within 2 inches of the brim with the mixture for every Jerusalem Artichoke tuber that you wish to plant. If the tubers aren’t already apart, separate them, and cut large tubes with multiple eyes (budlike growing points similar to the ones on potatoes) into sections that have 1 to 2 eyes and are at least 0.5 inches in diameter.
Plant a single tuber or piece of tuber in a pot at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. The ideal planting time is late winter or perhaps even early spring when the soil temperature is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil in black plastic pots will likely warm sooner than garden soil.
Place the pot containing the tubers you have planted in full sun. If possible, dig it to one-third of its depth into the soil to provide additional insulation against cold, heat, and moisture loss. Plants should be watered well once every week, but additional fertilizer isn’t necessary. Flower stalks should be cut off immediately using hand pruners if you intend to harvest the tubers to eat as they appear just before the plant begins to set seed.
If you don’t plan to harvest your Jerusalem Artichokes right away, sink the pots to within an inch or so of the rim and mulch over them. The tubers can remain in the soil until you are ready to use them; just pull the pots as you need them. Pro tip: Jerusalem Artichokes are actually often sweeter after a frost.
When Should You Plant Jerusalem Artichokes?
Jerusalem Artichokes should be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost for your area, as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. They require about 18 to 20 weeks frost free. They usually flower around August and September and can be harvested in the fall.
In regions with mild winters, Jerusalem Artichokes can be planted in autumn to be harvested in spring. In colder zones, however, sunchokes can be planted as an annual. They grow best in mild environments such as zones 7 to 11. If you’re not sure what zone you’re in, you can look up your plant hardiness zone on the USDA official website.
What Kind of Soil Do Jerusalem Artichokes Need?
Sunchokes are popular because they can grow in just about any soil. They have actually been known to produce decent harvests in heavy clay soils, but the yield isn’t as impressive. They grow best in loose, slightly acidic, fertile, and well-drained soils, but they typically don’t tolerate soggy conditions.
Jerusalem artichokes are tolerant of poor soil and can fill a space where other plants have trouble thriving. They also appreciate healthy soil, so don’t purposely choose infertile soil, but it is important to be aware that the plants are not particularly fussy.
They prefer alkaline soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.2, but be sure to avoid waterlogged soil since too much moisture will easily kill your plants. And if you’re growing in heavy clay soils, you should amend them with agricultural sand to ensure better drainage.
How Much Sun Do Jerusalem Artichokes Need?
You should aim to grow your Jerusalem Artichokes in full sun to part shade with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. They have a wide growing range and are hardy in zones 3 to 8, and will always produce a plentiful underground harvest.
To ensure maximum yields, aim to grow your sunchokes in areas with temperatures ranging from 60 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In areas that get cold for extended periods, placing mulch around the plant’s base helps protect the tubers.
When and How to Harvest Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem Artichokes can be harvested between October and December. They generally take about 110 to 150 days to reach maturity, but they are usually a lot more flavorful and much sweeter after a light frost or two.
Add a 12-inch layer of mulch after the first frost to extend your harvest. This helps prevent the ground from freezing and buys you a few more weeks to harvest. If you harvest later in the season, the sunchokes will likely taste sweeter, but they won’t contain as much of the dietary fibers.
You can tell when the sunchokes are ready for harvesting once the leaves die back. Tubers can be located and harvested using a hand rake or fork. If you’re using potato grow bags, just lift the flap to check for size.
What size container is needed to grow Jerusalem artichokes?
A container with a diameter of at least 18 inches and a depth of at least 24 inches is recommended for growing Jerusalem artichokes.
How often should Jerusalem artichokes in containers be watered?
Jerusalem artichokes in containers should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. In general, the soil should be watered whenever it starts to feel dry to the touch.
How do I store harvested Jerusalem artichokes?
Jerusalem artichokes can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to several weeks. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.
That’s it! You’re now an expert in growing Jerusalem artichokes in containers. Whether you’re short on garden space or just prefer the convenience of container gardening, growing Jerusalem artichokes in pots can be a rewarding experience. With the right soil, container, and care, you can harvest a bountiful crop of these delicious and nutritious tubers.
So why not give it a try? Plant a few tubers in a large container, water them regularly, and watch them grow. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful plant with tall stalks and lovely sunflowers. And come fall; you’ll be able to enjoy the earthy and nutty flavor of fresh Jerusalem artichokes in your favorite dishes.
Remember, growing Jerusalem artichokes in containers requires both patience and attention, but the rewards are well worth it. So get your hands dirty, experiment with different container sizes and soil types, and see what works best for you. And don’t forget to share your experience with others – who knows; you might inspire someone else to try growing Jerusalem artichokes in containers too!