Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes are related to Yacon, also being part of the Asteracea family. They are native to North America and have been an important food source there for thousands of years too. In America they are usually called Sunchokes (which makes more sense than ‘Jerusalem artichoke’ as they are not from Jerusalem and are not artichokes!). Until I started growing them I had no idea how beautiful they were and now always want some in my garden. They are very tall with yellow sunflower like flowers that flower over a long period and are loved by the bees.


Jerusalem artichokes prefer free draining, well composted or manured soil. The tubers are planted direct into the soil in the spring when the ground temperature reaches 15 – 16ºC. We plant them at approximately 40cm spacings in 2 rows along a one metre wide bed. They are heavy yielding and produce large clusters of tubers.

                         Dalmatian artichokes


We have 3 different types of Jerusalem artichokes in the collection: ‘Jerusalem’, with pale, knobbly tubers; ‘Red Skinned’ with smoother tubers with a red tinge to the skin and ‘Dalmatian’ that are similar to Jerusalem. The Red Skinned ones came from the South Island and don’t grow well this far north in the Hokianga but the other two varieties do. 


They are ready in late autumn / winter when the tops die back and can left in the ground until they are going to be eaten as long as the ground is not too wet. In early spring dig up all that remain in the bed, prepare the bed and re-plant. Alternatively they can be dug up when tops die down and stored in damp sawdust and the bed re-planted in the spring. In areas with heavy soil and wet winters they are best dug up as they can rot if the ground is too wet. They have a reputation for being quite persistent in a garden and difficult to get rid of so its best to designate a particular bed in which the artichokes are planted every year because its difficult to get all of them and any that are not harvested will come up the following year.


They can be used in a variety of ways. They are usually cooked (although some people do eat them raw in salads) and can be boiled, steamed or roasted. Recipe ideas here …..

Jerusalem Artichokes are a valuable addition to a garden, partly for their beauty and because they are so loved by bees, but also because they are high yielding and can also produce useful animal food too. Pigs in particular love artichokes and our chickens happily tuck into the damaged ones. They are also great food for people with diabetes. Definitely worth making some space for!

To find out if these are currently available to purchase please check here