Three years ago we decided we wanted to try growing Jerusalem artichokes in the garden. Heeding the warning that they have a tendency to spread and can take over your acreage if not contained in some way, we planted the tubers in one of our 4' x 8' raised beds.
We weren't thrilled with the harvest at the end of that first season. The artichokes were small, thin and very bumpy. Lumpy. You know, lots of knobs that made it hard to clean them. And the flavor? Meh. Nothing to write home about.
But being reasonable people (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), we decided to give them another year before making any rash judgements.
After the harvest at the end of that second year, we saw no improvement and were sure we could find some other veggie to plant in the space that we would enjoy more. Lots more.
So at the end of that growing period, I took my trusty spading fork and dug out tubers. And dug out tubers. And dug out tubers. Where the heck did all those tubers come from? It was kinda creepy.
Having a sneaky feeling I hadn't won in the total eradication of the artichokes, last year we stacked "risers" on top of the artichoke bed and made it into a compost heap. All year long, nary one little sprout of an artichoke made an appearance. "Ha!" I rejoiced. "We succeeded in smothering out those pesky little buggers."
This spring the compost was removed from the bed, the risers taken off and the soil was worked up and I planted the bed full of onions.
Next thing I knew (dum-da-dum-dum), strange looking "weeds" began popping up among the onions. Oh, no! ARTICHOKES!
Not only are the artichokes coming up within the confines of the raised bed, they're escaping via underground tunnels (!) and making a run for freedom.
This (and the first picture) shows one week's growth of artichokes. Each week I attack the sprouts and wring their little necks. I can't dig them out for fear of harming the onions valiantly doing their darndest to keep growing in the bed. The artichoke shoots are so tough, the best I can do is break them off at soil level. What if all I'm doing is strengthening the underground part by pruning off the tops? Ugh.
Needless to say, next season I'm going to have to leave the bed unplanted. I'll attack it regularly with my spading fork (and perhaps some dynamite) to get out every blasted, %$#^* tuber I can find. Then maybe, just maybe, the following year I will again have that bed for use in growing something that is in no way related to a Jerusalem artichoke.
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