|More than knee high and tasseling|
I harvested my first potatoes several weeks ago. I tried mulching the potatoes with straw, having read that they will form potatoes in the straw. I didn't experience that, possibly I didn't add enough straw. However, none of the potatoes were sun scalded. They may have grown close to the surface of the soil, but the straw mulch protected them from the sun. I harvested the one row of potatoes that was right next to my cabbages as they had grown so tall that they were shading the cabbages. We also harvested our first onion so Linda was able to make creamed peas and potatoes. Unfortunately we had to use frozen peas. I planted my peas about a month late so they weren't ready. We have also harvested our first tomatoes. I really look forward to the time of year when we are able eat from our garden every day.
I have experimented growing Jerusalem Artichokes for the past few years. I still haven't eaten any of them, but they are very spectacular plants to grow. They are a type of sunflower, native to North America. Indian tribes who lived in the midwest and the plains used to harvest the wild tubers. So how did it get the name Jerusalem Artichoke? At some point it was introduced into Europe. Because the flavor of the tubers is similar to artichokes they were called Girasole Artichokes after the Italian word for Sunflower. Somehow that name migrated back to America, being corrupted to Jerusalem Artichoke. I have had several problems with Jerusalem Artichokes, also called Sunchokes. First of all, little voles have eaten a good part of the tubers. Voles are like a cross between a mouse and a gopher. They have also caused some problems with my potatoes, but its worse with the sunchokes because they are harvested so late in the year. I usually harvest my potatoes before the voles do too much damage. The second problem with sunchokes is that in spite of the voles, there are numerous little tubers that I always fail to find. In spite of the fact that most of my harvest has gone to the voles, the plants come back year after year, regardless of my present plans for that portion of the garden.
This year I'm trying a new strategy with the Jerusalem Artichokes. I transplanted some of my volunteers into old ratty unusable honeybee shipping cages. I planted the whole box into the ground so the tubers will develop inside the shipping cage. The tubers are protected from the voles and when I pull up the shipping cage, I should be able to remove every last tuber. At least that is my plan We'll see if it turns out according to plan. I've also transplanted some of the volunteers into pots.
|A patch of volunteer Jerusalem Artichokes|
|An unusable shipping cage repurposed to a subterranean planter box|
|Jeerusalem Artichokes safely contained|