I'm looking to expand my balcony garden. I don't want to go through the trouble of getting new plants every spring so I am looking at cold hardy (-16°C is about the coldest I've seen here this winter) edible perennials.

A few things a piqued my interest:

  • Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus)

  • Groundnut (Apios americana)

  • Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus)

I've read suggestions that the artichokes could serves a pole for the beans and the groundnut to climb on but I'd like to get some feed back / sanity check on this combination.

My concerns are that:

  • the artichokes might not be up to bearing the load of the beans or groundnuts (respectively - I'd probably plant one of them near each artichoke)

  • there could be confusion between the three different tubers come harvest time. As far as I can tell the bean tubers are not edible. Though they do seem to look rather different than the other two...

  • the plants might want to grow higher than what I can accomodate on my balcony. I don't think the artichoke would do that with the ceiling in the way. And then the other two would not have the option to given the lack of stabilization...

I'm not quite sure how I'll plant them.

One alternative would be to do two pots: artichoke and groundnut in one (which would solve the tuber problem) and beans in a second with wooden stalks.

I am open to alternatives but I like the idea using some of that vertical space on my balcony and especially the artichokes and beans seem lovely.

  • What makes you think a sunchoke is a perennial? – Graham Chiu Apr 6 '18 at 10:27
  • @GrahamChiu Wikipedia – Kempeth Apr 6 '18 at 10:32
  • @GrahamChiu: it is perennial, but sometime cultivated as annual. – Giacomo Catenazzi Apr 6 '18 at 13:25
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    Forget to keep perennial artichoke at -16C (but they can bear a lot of weight). What it is the size (and height) of your balcony? South facing? – Giacomo Catenazzi Apr 6 '18 at 13:27
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    Best to try eating sunchokes first before growing them. You may find inulin unpleasant! – Graham Chiu Apr 6 '18 at 22:54

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