And the answer is ArtiCHOKEs or SunCHOKEs (also known as Jerusalem artichokes). I have been cleaning out the spent annual vegetable crops this week, which made me think about those vegetables that come back year after year (perennials) and are mixed into the garden landscape. Plant once – harvest for many years!
Artichokes are hearty plants that grow up to 6 feet in height. They have silvery green leaves and produce a tall stalk which flowers into the heads you see at the grocery store. The heads have spiky points that surround the edible bud, known as the “choke”. There are green and purple varietals to choose from, depending on your color preference. The English word “artichoke” has said to have been based on the belief that the inedible center of the vegetable could “choke” its eaters, or alternatively, that the plant can take over the garden, thus “choking” out other plants.
Artichokes typically produce flowers in the second year, so they are best grown from a start instead of seeds. Once your artichokes bloom you may get up to 5-6 chokes from one plant. They overwinter and produce shoots off the base of the flowering stalk and can be split and replanted in Spring. They are easy to control from spreading.
Jerusalem artichokes have a confusing name as they are not from Jerusalem and are not a type of artichoke (though both are members of the Aster family). This crop was popular in the 1600s across Europe and the New World, as they are nutrient rich and store well. They fell out of favor with the rise of the popular potato in the mid-eighteenth century.
But buyer beware – THEY DO SPREAD! Consider that before planting in your yard. If you have ever had mint take over a garden space, these plants are the same. But, maybe you have a bare spot you want to fill in with tall flowering plants that will also give you a harvest. If so, then these plants are for you!
Perennial Vegetable Options
So as you wrap up the growing season this year, consider how you might add perennial vegetables into your landscape. These two are both easy to grow and you will get to have your CHOKE and eat it too!
Other great perennials to try in as edible additions in the garden are rhubarb, chives and arugula. I hope you had a successful gardening season given the rain, drought, and smoke we had to deal with in that order this year.