Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke is a perennial member of the sunflower family. It produces edible tubers which will live over winter in the ground. Also called sun chokes, mature tubers are like small knobby Irish potatoes. Though it rarely blossoms in northern gardens, it flowers profusely in warmer areas of the country. I love it's Latin name - Helianthus tuberosus, just sort of rolls off your tongue. Its common name, Jerusalem Artichoke, does not, as it seems, imply that it grows in Palestine, but is a corruption of the Italian Girasola articiocco, the Sunflower Artichoke, Girasola meaning 'turning to the sun,' an allusion to the habit it is supposed to have in common with many of the Sunflower. It appears to have been cultivated as an article of food by the Native Americans and very soon attracted the attention of settlers. The Jerusalem Artichoke has been extensively cultivated in Europe, but rather as a garden vegetable than a field crop. When first introduced, the mode of preparation of the tubers was to boil them till tender, and after peeling, they were eaten sliced and stewed with butter, wine and spices. They were also baked in pies, with dates, ginger, raisins, etc.

They have been called the 'Potatoes of Canada,' because the French brought them first from Canada. Jerusalem Artichokes contain inulin { not insulin } as a form of carbohydrates. They are 100% starchless and store their sugar as levulose like honey does. They are high in potassium and thiamine. I know of no insects or diseases that affect Jerusalem Artichokes, but deer will find them attractive. The entire plant makes good feed for cattle or chickens. The aboveground part of the plant is a coarse, usually multibranched, frost-tender perennial, 7 to 10 feet tall. The numerous showy flowerheads, appearing in late summer or early autumn, have yellow ray flowers and yellow, brownish, or purplish disk flowers. The underground tubers vary from oblong to much-elongated, from regular to rough and branched, and from very small to 4 ounces Skin colors range from light buff, through yellowish, to brown, red, and purple. The tubers are very thin-skinned and soon shrivel on exposure to dry air; the flesh is white and crisp. The plant is propagated by planting the tubers. The ground should be well dug over and if at all heavy, or poor, should be lightened by incorporating some peat moss, compost or well-rotted manure. Grow the plant in full sun and a well drained, sandy loam or light loam. Once established it comes up every year. In fact if left unchecked, Jerusalem artichokes may become undesirable weeds and take over the garden area. They should be planted in rows 3 feet apart with the final spacing 15 to 18 inches apart in the row. For planting, which may be done in February, but not later than March, small tubers should be chosen and indeed reserved for his purpose when the crop is taken up, but almost any part of a tuber will grow and form a plant. The sets should be planted in rows, 3 feet apart and at a distance of 18 inches from each other in the rows, they should be set at least 6 inches deep. As a rule, a great number of plants is produced from one tuber. Small tubers or pieces of large tubers are used for planting. Tuber pieces should be about 2 ounces and are planted 4 inches deep The plants are fairly tall so may be planted where a low screen is desired. The ground should be kept clean by hoeing and as the plants grow in height, a little earth should be drawn up around the stem. Do not cultivate deeper than 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Jerusalem artichokes planted in the spring are generally ready during the fall. Harvest them after heavy frost in the fall or before new growth begins in the early spring. Cut the plants down when the leaves are decayed, but not before, otherwise the tubers will cease to grow. Harvesting is easy as well, just fork the tubers up in fall. The tubers are crisper and sweeter after fall frost and especially after remaining in the soil until early spring. The tubers may be held for a few days in an air- tight container in the refrigerator. For longer storage, put them in a cool place (31-32 degrees) in moist sand or sawdust. They also make great pickles.

They are best when left in the ground until needed. When growth starts, the tubers turn black and are not edible.

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For a great natural fungus and mildew spray use Chamomile tea! I brew mine from home grown Chamomile, but I understand the store bought tea bags works just as well. Brew 2 cups of tea (one at a time) from the same tea bag, the 2nd one dilutes the strength to "just right" as well as giving you more solution. It works wonderfully on the fungus & mildew that grow on seedling peat pots and helps prevent damping off. Add a drop of liquid soap and it also helps repel insects. Allow tea to cool and mist mildew/fungus as often as necessary.

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To steam-blanch tomatoes in preparation for sun-drying, fill a steamer or saucepan with 1" to 2" of water. Steam them in a wire basket for 3 minutes. This step will prevent the tomatoes from molding during the drying process. Don't allow the tomatoes to come in contact with the water. Place halved tomatoes that have been steam- blanched on a plastic screen that's been sprayed with olive oil. Use a frame to support the screen so you can dry the fruit in a single layer. Cover the tomatoes with netting. When tomato dry, store them in glass jars on the pantry shelf for up to a year.

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Always wash new or recycled planting containers in hot soapy water and then soaking in a laundry bleach and water solution (approximately one part liquid laundry bleach  to nine parts water). Soak the clean pots and containers for 30 minutes, then rinse. All pots and seed trays need drainage holes. This allows moisture and oxygen to flow through. A fresh bag of soilless mix is the best planting ground for seeds and seedlings. This will be a combination of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite.

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Cabbage Worms & Cabbage Lopers

The worms are around 3 cm long and velvety green. The lopers are green and move like inchworms. The adults of worms are white small butterflies the lay their eggs on the leaves of plants like cole crops, radishes and turnips. The adults of the loper are brown in color. They appear in the garden in late spring and are active until mid fall. They hide in the crinkly curling leaves of vegetables. They are hard to spot on the leaves but they do leave dark green droppings on the leaves. They leave holes in the leaves so you know that they are present.They make large ragged holes in the leaves of affected plants. They don't take very long to destroy a plant.

Control

1) Hand pick

They are not easy to see on green plants, red cabbage however is an easy one. Sometimes they're hiding inside the tender broccoli leaves. Look for signs they are there and then you will find them

2) Use row covers - Make them out of light permeable material. There is some that you can buy.

3) Make an organic spray - Garlic and organic oil mixed with water and red pepper.

4) Bt

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Wild Edibles

Catnip

Grows in waste ground, roadsides. The dried leaves make a pleasantly soothing tea when prepared like oriental tea.

Cattail

Look in fresh or brackish marshes, shallow water. Tons of uses: Salad, asparagus, cooked vegetables, flour, pickle, potato. This is possibly one of the best and certainly the most versatile of our native edible plants. Harvest cattails where old stalks are abundant.

Day Lily

Found in waste ground leftover from a previous garden. Great in salad, asparagus, cooked vegetable, fritters, seasoning. A little-known, but excellent food source. Add the early shoots to salads or prepare like asparagus. Prepare the young flowerbuds like green beans or, when older, like fritters.

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Brandie

"How fair is the garden amid the toils and passions of existence"

 

 

 
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