Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lessons of a Growing Season and a Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Recipe

I don't consider myself to be an experienced gardener.  

Every year is new and every year new lessons are learned. 

This year cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and Jerusalem artichokes were new additions to my garden.   The cabbage needed more sun.  The broccoli provided us with a nice dense head of green followed with crisp little side shoots for the rest of the growing season.  The Brussels sprouts resulted in cheers when I served them to my kids.  And the Jerusalem artichokes - well they did great, but dominated the sad row of tomatoes I planted next to them.  While the sturdy stalks of the sunflowers reached preposterous heights, the tomatoes barely survived.  

I know now to not plant anything close to these vigorous plants. 


Rather than having the abundant harvest of tomatoes I had hoped for, beautiful fall bouquets brightened up our living space. 



After a few light freezes, a serious cold snap was predicted and our whole family went to work.  We pulled the last few things out of the garden: carrots, Brussels sprouts, onions, tiny heads of cabbage (lack of sun), horse radish and the few remaining broccoli shoots.  We pushed garlic into the ground (a little late) and mounded leaves around sensitive plants.


And then we unearthed the Jerusalem artichoke tubers.



This spring I planted half a dozen, wrinkled Jerusalem artichoke tubers that had been stored in the bottom of my fridge all winter and they yielded an amazing bounty of roots.


It was only after we dug them all up that I went inside and leafed through the pages of my gardening books.  

How do I store these? 

They are best left in the ground, mulched heavily, and harvested when needed. 

Yikes!


  I am already composing a to do list for next spring:
     - dig more garden beds
     - thin out the strawberries
     - amend the soil (it is in desperate need of nitrogen)
     - plant more parsley
     - successfully grow winter squash (I'm done with containers and crappy potting soil)
     - more space between plants
     - plant a non dwarf variety of kale as well as my favorite Dwarf Curly Blue variety

For now we are eating Jerusalem artichokes.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup 

1/4 cup butter
2 onions, minced
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, diced
2 potatoes, diced 
  • cook 10 minutes covered, ook 10 more minutes uncovered
1 Tablespoon flour
3 cups broth
  • simmer 5 minutes (or until potatoes are soft) and then blend
3/4 cup of cream of half and half
salt and pepper 
1/4 fresh parsley
  • stir in the remaining ingredients
(optional variation: add a few pieces of cooked and crumbled bacon as a garnish) 


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