Useful information

Jerusalem artichoke: planting and growing

Botanical portrait and history of cultivation

Jerusalem artichoke, or sunflower tuberous (Helianthus tuberosus) belong to the Asteraceae family, it is a very close relative of the sunflower, only perennial. They use tubers from him, which is reflected in the Latin name - tuberosus in Russian "tuberous". And in German, depending on the region of Germany and the corresponding dialect, it is called an earthen apple or earthen pear (although, for example, in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland, potatoes are sometimes called that), as well as Jerusalem artichoke, earthen artichoke, tuberous sunflower , sweet potatoes and even Schnapskartoffel, which means schnapps potatoes (who doesn't remember, schnapps is German vodka). In English, the most common name is Jerusalem artichoke and sun root, or simply Jerusalem artichoke.

Jerusalem artichoke

This perennial herb, under favorable conditions, reaches a height of three meters. The stem dies off for the winter, and new shoots grow from the tubers in the spring. The leaves are simple and large, sometimes up to 20-25 cm in length. The whole plant is pubescent. Inflorescences are baskets with a diameter of 4-8 cm with bright yellow reed flowers, fruits are achenes, like in sunflower. Flowering is observed, depending on the place of cultivation, from August to November. In our zone, it often does not have time to bloom. This is due to the fact that a certain length of day is required for its flowering, and it occurs in our conditions, sometimes simultaneously with frost.

The plant hibernates with tubers, which store sugar. The tubers can be apple, pear or spindle-shaped, the skin is beige and yellowish to pink in color, but the flesh is white. From a morphological point of view, tuber formation is no different from this process in potatoes, so, as everyone went through at school in botany lessons, this is not a root, but a modified shoot. Jerusalem artichoke's skin is thinner than that of potatoes, so it requires more careful handling during loading and storage. It can withstand frosts in soil down to -30 ° C, but the above-ground mass cannot stand more than -5 ° C.

Jerusalem artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke has great vigor of growth, is relatively unpretentious and has been successfully naturalized in Europe. Moreover, in some cases, it can even crowd out local species. Jerusalem artichoke forms shoots that penetrate the territory of neighboring plants, where it forms tubers, from which powerful shoots are formed next year, shading the plants growing nearby, which gradually give way to the invader. The next year, a new wave of growth takes over the surrounding area, and so on.

Jerusalem artichoke comes from North and Central America. It has been a food crop of local Indians since pre-Columbian times.

Suffering from hunger in Canada, French settlers sent to celebrate several unknown tubers of the plant that saved them from starvation in 1610, to Paris, as well as to the Vatican, which was famous for collecting rarities and exotics from all over the world. The papal gardeners christened him girasole articiocco - sunflower artichoke. And then the people renamed it the Jerusalem artichoke.

At first, it was cultivated simply as a food and forage crop, but after that it came into fashion as a delicacy. However, the value of Jerusalem artichoke gradually decreased, and it was replaced by much more fruitful and neutral in taste potatoes.

Today, this crop is cultivated on almost all continents, but is not as important as potatoes, wheat or rice. Rather, it is just a tasty and healthy supplement in the diet. Its main cultivation areas are in North America, Russia, Australia and Asia. In Europe, it has little economic value, and in small quantities it is planted in southern France and the Netherlands, small areas are occupied by it in Germany (in Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Baden).In Denmark, for example, it is planted annually from 15 to 20 hectares. Today tubers in Europe can only be found in organic stores or weekly markets. In Switzerland, it is also sold in retail chains, but shipped from New Zealand.

Planting and growing

It is grown in production as an annual crop, which, in general, does not impose special requirements on conditions. Considering that this is a perennial plant, you can simply partially dig in the tubers in your garden plot without dragging the plants from place to place. Jerusalem artichoke forms a large biomass, it is better to choose a fertile site for it, and for the successful formation of tubers, the soil must also be quite loose. It is best if it is well-fertilized light loam. Optimal pH values ​​are in the range of 6.0-7.5. From north to south, its borders are rather vague, but areas with a temperate climate are optimal. The site is preferably well lit, and if those are already occupied, then you can choose a place with a little shading.

Jerusalem artichoke

When planting, which is carried out in early spring, leave the distance between rows from 60 to 80 cm, and in a row 30-40 cm. In general, be guided by the principle - the longer the growing season and the higher the soil fertility, the greater the distance. Planting depth - 10-12 cm. In production, potato planting machines are used for planting. Per hectare, you need from 1.2 to 2 tons of tubers. Before planting, soaking in a solution of Zircon (0.1 ml / l) is effective, which allows the tubers to start growing faster and take root.

The main care is to combat weeds - this is especially true if Jerusalem artichoke has been growing in one place for several years. Of course, with its mass it will crush most of the green aggressors, but it is still better if at the first stage it grows without competitors, especially in the form of wheatgrass, sow thistle and other similar invaders.

In foreign literature, there is a recommendation to break off flowers, which supposedly contributes to an increase in the mass of tubers and yield. This recommendation has a certain biological meaning, since the seeds require a lot of nutrients, and this technique is also used on some other crops in which underground organs are used, for example, on Valerian officinalis.

From fertilizers, pay attention to potassium. Back in 1949, German scientists established that Jerusalem artichoke has increased requirements for this element. Opinions are very different regarding the recommended doses of nitrogen: German-speaking sources recommend up to 150 kg / ha for a.i., and English sources - only 50. But in any case, given the powerful above-ground mass, nitrogen cannot be dispensed with. For every 10 tons of tubers, Jerusalem artichoke contains 0.26 kg of nitrogen, 0.14 kg of P2O5, 0.62 kg of K2O and 0.02 kg of MgO.

The main period of tuber growth is from July to September (and in the south to October). In home gardens, the yield is 2-3 kg per m2. Jerusalem artichoke is well preserved in the soil, and in those areas where the soil freezes briefly or does not freeze at all, it can be dug all winter. But it is stored worse than potatoes. And in our frosty climate, you can extend the digging period by covering the area with straw.

Jerusalem artichoke

 

Pests and diseases

It is worth mentioning possible diseases and pests. Powdery mildew and Alternaria are most commonly seen at the end of the season. But, as a rule, the lesions are not critical, and the usual precautions are enough to fight - transplanting to a new place, destroying the affected aerial parts, etc. But in tropical countries, sclerotinosis is a serious danger, which can leave no crop at all ... Accordingly, species that are not resistant to this disease, for example, cabbage, are excluded from the predecessors. But here, fortunately, Jerusalem artichoke does not threaten to attack.