I just want to say how excited I am to be part of this adventure. I am so looking forward to getting my hands back in the dirt. Around 1994 I became a Master Gardener and I was really involved in the organization for 7 years before returning to college. I used to love gardening and always had a vegetable garden. When my husband and I bought our current house eight years ago, I gave up all hopes of having a garden. Our house is surrounded by 12 - 20+ meters fir trees. To say the least we don't get much sunlight.
Anyway, I am looking forward to sharing ideas about what to grow, and how that looks to some people. I think besides the large farming of grains and the like, We should either have individual gardens or another larger community garden that we collect and share from. People should also be encouraged to have smaller gardens near their dwellings.
Oh well, I could probably ramble for awhile. I'd love to hear from others... --Carol Wagner 19:34, 28 Jan 2005 (PST)
Here is a neat article that Jan found and the direct link (http://www.alternatives.com/vpn/news.html#pom)
Sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus) Grant Watson
The sunchoke, also called Jerusalem Artichoke, is a member of the sunflower family. It is native to the east coast of North America. It thrives in the climate of southwest BC, and can grow 8 ft tall. It has a similar appearance to the sunflower, with one straight stalk raising skyward, and a flower which follows the sun's path. The flower and leaves are on the small side of its family. The other big difference is that it produces a tasty tuber, which readily overwinters and gives you an ongoing harvest, even if you make a good effort to harvest them all, because you never do. These tubers are small and lumpy, and are reminiscent of water chestnuts in texture and flavour. Dig them up in late September or early October, when the plant is starting to shut down.
The plants provide an impressive border, have no local pests that I know of, and being large, draw nutrients from the lower soil layers. They produce lots of mulch material which can be applied directly to the soil as a winter cover, and they are a source of a tasty delicacy which keeps well in a cool dark place.
One thing which has discouraged me in the past from growing them is the difficulty of peeling the papery skin off the tubers. But recently a friend discovered that you can boil them with the peel on and squeeze the flesh out. And if you want an exotic addition to a salad for a special meal, peeling and slicing the raw tuber adds a flavourful crunch, and is worth the effort. Also, if you like to prepare for the worst, they are a reliable crop, and thus great famine food.
Another suggestion was offered by Don: I've never eaten cooked Sunchoke and never peeled them either. To clean them we use a stiff vegetable brush to get into the nooks and crannies. If there is an exceptionally deep crevasse with embedded soil, I either break or cut apart the tuber to get at the dirt. It seems to me that the skin gives a nutty flavor to the tuber. After being cleaned, I sometimes shred, or toss broken bits into a salad.
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