I planted a 10X15 plot of sunchokes this spring, and only got out about 10 freezer bags worth. The stalks were blooming, plenty of ground cover from grass, but still fairly green, with a lot of woody parts. Why did my sunchokes not produce like John Kohler's/et al do?

  • Worst year for tomatoes in 25 years here. The few there were tasted like store-bought. Peppers were abnormal too. Sunchokes may have suffered the same fate - weather. Oct 31, 2016 at 12:02
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    If memory serves, didn't you keep flooding the area where they were growing in the belief it would promote a larger crop? Which it wouldn't, actually, but also , ground cover from grass? Do you mean grass clipping mulch, or actual growing grass?
    – Bamboo
    Oct 31, 2016 at 22:49
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    John Kohler has been at this for many years. He has education, experience, the best equipment, weather-controlled environment, equipment, supplies and teams of people. I know how disappointing it is when something doesn't grow well, it happens to me all the time. Please don't beat yourself up. It's highly unlikely that anyone's first crop comes out like the experts, especially with a plant that's hard to grow. I'll bet your 10 bags worth are yummy, and next year's will be even better! Nov 1, 2016 at 2:04
  • i mean grass growing in the garden to simulate the meadow they naturally grow in. I did water the sunchokes heavily, but they did very well in the growth cycle, but not the production cycle, even though I had to chop and harvest before a good freeze hit them. I boiled them with getting almost all the dirt off them that I could, then riced them, and throwing away the skins. they are sweet, and may be worth using the tops as fodder with the farm I'm looking at. Nov 1, 2016 at 5:40
  • Did the tops look healthy while growing? I suspect soil conditions.
    – J. Musser
    Nov 22, 2016 at 0:30

1 Answer 1


While wild sunchokes may grow from a meadow, they don't produce like John Kohler's do either. For production, I'd keep the soil soft, and all other plants away. Lots of compost would help a lot. Deep, organic topsoil (the kind I wish I had) is what these will produce best in. It won't take near as much energy to push through.

You can fertilize them, with a general purpose fertilizer. Unlike many root crops, these (in my experience) get a boost with some nitrogen. Just don't overdo it or you'll end up with them lodging (falling over due to high winds or heavy rain).

Also, they do put on some at the end of the season. You can harvest them any time, but I like to wait until the tops die back in fall.

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    We always waited until after a hard freeze to dig these. Improved the palatability immensely.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 20, 2016 at 19:23
  • In the cold, the inulin gets converted to fructose making them much sweeter. This happens in ground or in the fridge. Dec 21, 2016 at 18:17

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