Family: ASTERACAEAE (Compositae)(Amaryllidaceae)
Genus & Species: Helianthus tuberosa
Heritage Status: New Zealand
Bio-Region of Origin: Southland
Description: Jerusalem Artichokes, or Sunroots as they are called in North America where they are an indigenous food, are a member of the sunflower family. This vegetable has been a very important peasant food in the past. Extremely hardy and prolific, beneficial garden insects are attracted to it’s leaves. The edible part is high in slow release sugar, so it’s an excellent vegetable for those with sugar imbalances such as diabetes and hypoglycemia. Great pig, duck and chook food too. They are ready for harvesting in autumn when the tops die back, but we prefer to leave them in the ground and just to help ourselves as we need them. If you dig them all up you have to store them in a way that keeps them all damp or they dry out and become inedible.
To help you decide which varieties will be best for you.
This excerpt from the Koanga Garden Guide is filled with valuable information.
Planting Instructions: Prefer free draining, well composted or manured soil. Plant tubers direct into soil when ground temperature reaches 15 – 16ºC. We plant them at approximately 40 cm spacings in two rows along a one metre wide bed. They are ready in winter when the tops die back and can left in the ground until they are going to be eaten as long as the ground is not too wet. In early spring dig up all that remain in the bed, prepare the bed and re-plant. Alternatively they can be dug up when tops die down and stored in damp sawdust and the bed re-planted in the spring.