Friday, July 5, 2013

Beware of Jerusalem Artichokes!

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.

24 comments:

  1. Now that's funny, I wonder if sheep like them, if they are that hard to get rid of maybe they would survive here.

    I see the house numbers are back in the word verification.

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    1. Tombstone Livestock - Come to think of it, they do look like something our goats would have eaten. So why wouldn't the sheep like them, too? I'll send you the 4,000 tubers I'll have to try to dig up next year.

      I sure didn't miss those dumb house numbers. Two words were much easier to read.

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  2. One would think that if the tops were chopped off enough times the root would die because it can't get any energy to store. Keep hacking away at the green tops and hopefully the roots will suffer.
    Good luck getting rid of them.

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    1. Okay that verification kinda freaked me out. It was eeAge 49. My age is 49!

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    2. Sparkless - Yeah, I would have thought after all I've done to them, they would have given up the ghost and died by now, too. No such luck.

      Every now and then one of those (blasted) word verifications hit the nail on the head, don't they? Yup, creepy!

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  3. Mama Pea,

    I'm laugh with you not at you! Thank you for the warning, I won't be planting the Jerusalem artichoke any time soon. If I do plant, I will make sure I plant them in pots.

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    1. Sandy - I wouldn't put it past them to grow "legs" right through the bottom of the pot and walk to a new spot and multiply!

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  4. Oh no! I had no idea they were so hardy. I consider myself warned. Hope your efforts pay off as planned.

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    1. LindaCO - And then there is something like sweet peas or corn on the cob or juicy tomatoes that die before we get our fill of them! Can't win, can ya?

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  5. I planted several in a bed here, specifically because they are hardy and the bed had been planted with Tansy by the previous owner. I was trying to weed the tansy out, but the tansy weeded out the artichokes and they never came back the second year!

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  6. Ok, I'm a glutton for punishment because I STILL want to try growing them. Don't suppose you'd want to ship a few tubers my way?

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    1. Carolyn - I'd gladly ship you some, m'dear, but I think you'd be better off researching it out 'cause I'm thinking there are two types: One that is long and narrow like I apparently got and another variety that is round and more like a potato-shape. Those would be much more desirable to my mind.

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  7. Oh dear. Well-I'm sorry YOU had to be the one learning that lesson--but at least you are saving someone else. I had thought about trying them......and as you may remember, I'm the dummy that thought I could contain raspberries in boxes in the garden. Ha. Haha. Hahahhahahahahahhahhaha. I'm STILL digging the buggers up out of the strawberry beds and wherever else those tentacles of doom reach. It's hard learning these lessons........
    (and oh, my aching back learning them!)

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    1. Sue - What we have to keep remembering is that in gardening there are no failures . . . only experiments. (And, boy howdy, have we all had some BAAAAD experiments!! ;o}

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  8. I don't have those, but I can relate. Yesterday I spent 2 hours trying to cut back and thin out a bed of irises that the landlords mother planted eons ago. There is no end to them! Good luck getting that bed back.

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    1. Stephanie - I'd trade my Jerusalem artichokes for your irises right now! Wanna?

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  9. LOL...I can see you "wringing their little necks". Thanks for the laugh. And the warning.

    I only want well behaved veg in my garden. I have enough fun trying to strangle the bermuda that's grwoing everywhere.

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    1. Tami - We don't have Bermuda grass (thank yo, Mother Nature!) but I've heard so many horror stories about it that I sure don't want it!

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  10. Yet I STILL want to grow them....just couldn't afford them this year!

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    1. Melanie - Well, go ahead and plant some, you silly girl! Just make sure you get the "round" variety instead of the one I got with all the "warts!"

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  11. I am feeling a little less smug - I thought I had planted mine far enough away from the raised beds. What if they're not...? I know! I'll dig them all up and give them to Melanie!!

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    1. Susan - Please do keep me informed on how yours do . . . whether you like them for eating (!), and whether they send out a kajillion of their relatives to take over your property!! Gardening is always interesting, isn't it?

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  12. I feel your pain, but my problem is with canna lillies and some green plant I don't even know the name of. A friend of a friend gave me some plants from her garden and one of them is spreading everywhere and I can't get rid of it! No wonder she was giving it away!

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    1. The Weekend Homesteader - Yep, we really have to be careful of what we plant (or inherit in your case!). Many, many years ago a friend of my MIL gave her "a lovely ground cover" called Creeping Charlie. It turned out to be an impossible to get rid of plant that took over their lawn, their garden, the front field . . . it was awful!

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