The Jerusalem artichoke is not an artichoke at all. It is a tuberous plant that is part of the sunflower family. Also called a sunchoke, this tall flowering plant produces an edible tuber that resembles a water chestnut in taste and texture. It can be used in place of potatoes in many dishes, or chopped up raw into salads.
Turn over the soil with compost in your planting bed in early spring. If your soil is heavy with clay, add some coarse sand to create a sandy loam texture.
Divide tubers into two or three pieces; each piece should have an "eye" on it. You can buy Jerusalem artichokes at the store and divide the tubers for planting.
Dig holes four to five inches deep and one foot apart. Rows should be two feet apart. Place one piece of tuber in each hole and cover over with soil. Pat down and water thoroughly.
Water one to two times a week depending on conditions--more water in dry weather and less in wet weather. Once the plants emerge, mulch the ground around the plants to keep moisture close to the ground and to supply added nutrients.
Fertilize every one to two months during the growing season with a potassium-rich fertilizer. Potash is a good choice. Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers.
Keep the soil mounded up at the base of the plants. If parts of the tubers begin to emerge from the soil, pile more dirt on the base of the plants to keep the tubers covered.
Dig up the tubers using a garden fork in late fall after the first frost. The first frost will kill the tops of the plants. At this time the roots are ready for harvest.
Pack the Jerusalem artichoke tubers in sawdust and store in a cool, dry place. Handle the roots gently when harvesting; they are thin-skinned and prone to damage if handled carelessly.