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Kitchen Garden: Jerusalem Artichokes

Pursuits | By Simon Courtauld

The Jerusalem artichoke has nothing to do with that city, or with anywhere else in Palestine or Israel. Nor has it any connection with globe artichokes (except for a slight similarity in taste). It is a relative of the sunflower – in Italian, girasole – from which, it is thought, the name Jerusalem came to be adopted in England. I prefer the French name topinambour, after the North American tribe in whose territory these roots were discovered by French explorers in the 17th century. It is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, requiring very little attention after the tubers have been planted in early spring, and it thrives on poor soil. Once the plants have reached their full height, up to eight feet and with yellow ‘sunflowers’, they may need staking and will provide a useful windbreak. They will give protection to outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers, but bear in...

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