Now that I live on my new farm home property, I have the freedom to increase my food production. As you can imagine, I lay awake at night (well not really- I actually sleep like a baby) thinking about all the new possibilities.
Several years ago I went to a meeting where people shared and traded their knowledge in this area. From that meeting, I brought home some Sun chokes or Jerusalem Artichokes. They are knobs that resemble ginger, they knobs were about the size of the quarter that you see in the picture.
I was excited because I had them before. You can slice them fresh and douse them with lemon juice or vinegar to keep them from turning gray. They are crunchy like water chestnuts. You can boil them with the skin on, and then squeeze them out of their skin to use them as a mash like a potato or turnip.
I planted them and watched as a beautiful smallish (4-6 ft) sunflower type plants grew. I noticed that the bees loved it. (Hallelujah!) Once it died back after a December frost, I broke off the plant and fed it to my goats. Then I dug up the chokes. I am also told that if you plant a field full of them, you can dry the plants for fodder, then after you harvest what you want, you can turn pigs into that field. They will plow up the field for you-in search of the lovely delicacies. Hurray for free food for the livestock!
We have been eating a few every year since. I save some of the best knobs and break them up and replant.
What really got me excited was that they are very invasive. Much like sweet potatoes, it is hard to find all of the tubers at harvest time. Then next March, surprise! Here they come again. Well hello Dolly!
When we moved in this past June, I dug up the ones that were growing in my little backyard garden and transplanted them to a flower bed. They did not all make it, but about 10 did.
We have had some frosty nights and last night, I noticed a gopher hole in that flower bed, so I broke off the plants to feed to the goats and dug up what tubers I could find. It was dark and cold, (I know 55 degrees sends me into fits of shivers) so I am sure that I did not get them all. But here they are in all their glory.
Keep in mind I only had 10 little plants that started with knobs the size of a quarter. I will save and plant twice as many this year. Soon I will have a whole field full. Did someone say pigs?