Sweet potatoes and Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes)!
Has anyone grown their own sweet potatoes or sunchokes? If you are looking for a couple of easy foods to grow, I recommend trying these. This was our first year with the sunchokes and our second season growing sweet potatoes.
For the sweet potatoes you’ll need to buy your “slips” in the spring, plant them, let them grow, vine and flower during the summer and then harvest once the flowers die in the fall.
Here is what our sweet potato bed looked like before we dug up the tubers:
There was more foliage but some animals (deer?) ate much of it.
We used a rake to find the buried treasures. To me, it really was that exciting! We take for granted how easy it is to go to the store and conveniently buy food– there is something extremely gratifying and real about growing it yourself in your own backyard that puts you more in touch with nature and life.
How cool is this??!! Food does not get any more real than that:
We planted sunchokes in the spring since I had bought some at Whole Foods, tried them for the first time in my life and thought they were totally delicious. Once we looked them up and discovered how easy they are to grow we gave it a whirl. Here is what the plant looks like. Very much like a sunflower (they are related):
They get very tall!
While you admire the pretty flowers, the edible portions are developing underground that you can harvest once the flowers die. Just pull the plant out of the ground and dig around for the sunchokes.
From what I have read, these plants come up again and again over the years. Forage around for all the sunchokes you can find; no need to leave a few in the earth– they always grow again, to the point of actually being invasive in some cases.
Like the sweet potato harvest, searching for these was just as thrilling!
You can cook sunchokes the same ways you would cook potatoes (bake, steam, roast or boil). You can mash them as well. I have only steamed them and found that the softer they get, the tastier they are. And no need to peel. You can also eat them raw.
Here’s the bowl we got:
I think just about everyone has eaten sweet potatoes but sunchokes are not as common. They are less starchy than potatoes, a little sweet and nutty, a bit like water chestnuts. A few words worth mentioning about the sunchokes: They contain inulin, a fiber that can be hard to digest for some people. Try a small amount at first to see how your body does with them.
Anyone harvesting any of their own food this fall? What do you grow?