Yesterday, the first Jerusalem Artichoke flowers opened! For those of you who don't know this plant, it is a good example of why you should not use common names to identify plants you will eat or use as medicine. First, it has nothing to do with Jerusalem and second, it is not related to Artichokes? It is actually a sunflower that has edible tubers. The tubers are numerous and substantial, making it a good food plant. You can eat the tubers raw or cooked. I really like them raw, eaten as is, or shredded on a salad. They can be cooked like potatoes; boiled, baked or fried. One of my favorite ways to eat the cooked tubers is scalloped, using organic heavy cream. PS. If you plan to plant these in your garden they will spread over your whole garden in a few short years, so plant where you plan to have them for a long time!
Two years ago I planted my first Luffa plant, the vines grew well but I only got two small Luffa gourds, so I was a bit disappointed. I tried again last year and they did poorly and I got no gourds. I know Luffa need a long growing season so I figured that was the problem and vowed not to plan them again. Well , I changed my mind and planted about 10 plants this year.I planted them in pots and started them early indoors. I transplanted them at the base of the fence going around the chicken coop so they would have a place to climb. Man was that a mistake I thought, as the chickens found those tasty morsels and attacked them through the fence. I put up a small fence to block their advances and they found away around that barrier. I reinforce the fence and it seemed to work. Well, my neighbors Guinea's discovered my female Guinea (of course, it's spring!) and spent days pacing the fence trying to get in the coop. Of course, they trampled my Luffa plants to a pulp! I put up a fence on the outside of the coop to protect the Luffa though not expecting any to survive. They barely held on for weeks but I kept trying by watering and fighting off the onslaught.They finally started to show some life in the form of new leaves so I just kept up the ritual. Once they got tall enough, the chickens started to jump over the small protecting fence and eat the new leaves. I adjusted the fence to cover as high as they can jump and I figured this was the last I was going to do and let nature take its course because I figured that by now there would not be enough time left to produce any gourds. Boy was I wrong! Once thy got higher than the chickens could reach they exploded with growth. Today those surviving vines completely cover two sides of the coop fence, but the best part is there are easily 30 HUGE gourds in clusters all over the fence! The vines are beautiful, covered with dozens of yellow flowers. So, now what do I do with all those Luffa!