Credit: Carolyn Herriot

If you need a natural windbreak, or to provide shade from sun, sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus) may be your answer!

These fast growing perennial vegetables grow to six feet by mid-summer. (They are also known as Jerusalem artichokes for reasons unbeknown to me). They spread rapidly by underground shoots that grow into tubers and will become a permanent fixture in the garden once planted. I grow two varieties, one with red tubers and one with white tubers which produce showy yellow sunflowers in October. The red variety is a lot more prolific than the white one.

Easy to grow, sunchokes thrive in any garden soil, but the best tubers are grown in good soil in full sun. Tubers should be planted early in the year in March or April, before they take root, and can be left to grow until harvested in late fall, once the tops die down. They are sweetest if left until after hard frosts, and can be harvested from the garden as needed throughout the winter.

Try eating them peeled and sliced with a veggie dip (crunchy and refreshing), or drizzled with olive oil and roasted for 25 minutes (sweet and nutty).

Back to the Victory Garden Program.