Last April I constructed a hugelkultur bed and planted it with jerusalem artichokes. In previous posts I have discussed how the jerusalem artichokes grew very well in the hugelkultur beds. When late fall came around and the jerusalem artichokes plants had died back, I cut the stems down to just above ground level. This would allow me to see where to dig for harvesting the tubers.
I did harvest some of the tubers and cooked them with some olive oil and seasoned with pepper and salt.
The jerusalem artichokes in the hugelkultur bed started blooming in late fall. The photo below was taken on September 3rd. By the end of September all the sunchokes were in full bloom and getting really top heavy from all the flower heads. It didn’t take much wind to cause the tallest plants to topple over to the ground.
[Jerusalem artichokes blooming in late summer]
Above is an updated photo showing the jerusalem artichokes and hugelkultur bed as of May 31st 2011. I’ve added 2 pepper plants, 2 garden huckleberries, and a few other herbs her and there to try to fill in the sides. I’ve also tried to leave the dutch white clover that is coming up to act as a living mulch.
The first sprouts of the jerusalem artichokes are beginning to poke out of the leaf mulch of the hugelkultur bed that my 4 year old son and I built and planted last weekend. For some information on hugelkultur beds check out my previous post on jerusalem artichokes.
There are two different techniques in building a hugelkultur bed. You can place all the large logs at ground level and then cover them with soil, or you can place the logs in a pit. The second technique provides you with soil to cover the bed. This is the method we chose. We didn’t have any extra soil around so it seem to be the more sustainable method since we didn’t have to purchase soil from offsite.
So I ordered some Jerusalem Artichokes from Oikos Tree Crops to plant for this spring. Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes), Helianthus tuberosus are a native perennial in the Asteraceae (sunflower, asters) family. They are suppose to be a good alternative to potatoes being less starchy. From what I have read about them they are not very fussy and easy to grow.