Thanks for taking the time to read our article on how to grow Jerusalem artichokes for beginners in the UK. It is fair to say that not many UK gardeners actually grow these plants in their gardens.
They are more popular in many diets rather then on the kitchen plate. Some diets include this type of artichoke as an alternative to the humble potato.
These plants do grow quite high, with many plants getting upwards of anything between 5 to 10 feet tall. The actual name of the plant refers to its relationship with the sun flower and comes from the Italian word girasole, which stands for sun follower.
The leaves on the artichoke plant do have quite a rough and hairy texture. The Jerusalem artichoke will flower with a nice yellow colour.
The actual tubers which grow under the ground are the parts that you can eat. They are irregular in shape, and many people say that their appearance looks a lot like ginger roots.
They do have a crunchy texture when raw. They vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple. Mainly these are used in salads and it would seem people in the UK prefer the Globe artichoke for taste and cooking.
Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw in salads or they can be cooked and eaten that way.
Varieties that are best for beginners
There are a few main varieties:
- Fuseau - This variety has long white tubers and this one will grow to anything between 5-6 feet. This variety has a smooth skin that is easy to peel.
- Boston Red - As the name would suggest this one has a red skin and is rather nobbly
- Dwarf Sunray- This artichoke also has long smooth skinned tubers.
The Jerusalem artichoke is not started from seed, but from tubers. To grow Jerusalem artichokes you will need to buy "tubers" from your local garden centre or online. The typical price for artichoke bulbs is around £4 for 5 good quality tubers.
Plant the tubers as soon as possible 30-40 cm apart in soil that has had added organic matter at a depth of approx 10-15 cm deep
Time between planting & sprouting
Yield per Plant
3 to 5 lbs
Time between planting & lifting
Ease of Growing
Easy- you will need to stake these when they get taller
- Planting Time - January - mid April
- Lifting Time - Mid October - Early March
Best Soil & Planting Tips
Jerusalem artichokes will grow in most soil types. The only thing that you will want to avoid is soil that can get water logged. Dig the soil in Autumn or even early Winter and add in some compost.
The plants are very useful for making an excellent screen or windbreak and the tubers are ready to harvest from between October and early spring.
Maintaining the Plant
When planting dig in compost to the soil and plant the tubers 30-40 cm apart.
When the plants are 30 cm (1 foot) high, then earth-up the base of the stems.
Water well when the weather is dry.
They will need support as they grow in height. The easiest way of doing this is a wooden cane at each end of the drill, with plastic coated wire on either side of the plants.
During the summer months you should remove any flower buds as and when they form and feed occasionally with a liquid fertiliser.
Jerusalem Artichoke Pests and Problems
Slugs will attack the tubers when they are first planted, and during any type of wet weather. You will notice them by their tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop. You may also see this silver trail on the leaves.
Avoid this pest by spreading slug pellets around the plants. There are other ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, copper tape and biocontrols.
Grubs and Caterpillars
These are both root eating grubs. The best way of dealing with these is to rake in "Bromophos" into the soil before planting.
This is where the base of the stems are attacked. If it happens you will start to see white mould on the stems. Any plants that have been attacked will have to be removed and destroyed.
Any remaining plants should then be treated with Chestnut Compound.
Harvesting & Use
Cut down the stems to about one foot above the ground once the leaves have turned brown, and that is in Autumn time. You can then use a garden fork to lift the tubers anytime between October and early Spring.
Cover the stem bases with straw in harsh weather conditions.
When the season draws to a close save some of the tubers for replanting. It is hard to find all the tubers, but if you can then lift all of them. Any old tubers left in the ground may end up growing as weeds.
If you have never grown Jerusalem artichokes before, then we recommend starting small with just a few tubers. You can then try them and see if you like them as a vegetable.
They are easy to grow and any soil type works well.