Fodder, Livestock, Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance

Weeds for Feed – Jerusalem Artichoke (Fodder Plants #3)

jerusalem-artichoke(Helianthus tuberosus)

The third fodder plant in this series isn’t actually a perennial, but it acts like one as it re-sprouts every year from any tubers left in the ground (believe me, you won’t find them all). The Jerusalem Artichoke is a member of the sunflower family. It grows rapidly, reaching up to 9 feed tall, if not cut for fodder, in one season. It isn’t picky about soil and is rather tenacious once it finds a spot it likes. In fact, it could be considered a weed, but then again, most of my favorite plants are. But that is another story…..

Unlike willow and mulberry, the two previous fodder plants I discussed, Jerusalem Artichoke isn’t very high in protein at all. In fact, it tests out at only about 5% for tops and 10% for tubers. However, it is very high in sugars which makes for a nice fattening feed. Jerusalem Artichoke is also particularly good for lactating animals who benefit from their high energy content.ja2

The plant does have one major advantage over mulberry and willow. The tubers store easily to provide winter feed when all the branches are bare and everything green is gone. While harvesting the tops does reduce tuber production (the plant has only so much energy), it still produces a respectable amount if the tops are allowed to grow from mid August until frost.

Oh, and don’t be shy about trying those tubers yourself. They are quite delicious!



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One Comment

  1. Planting artichoke tubers is especially similar to planting potatoes, and is done from cut pieces each having a seed or “eye.” Unlike potatoes, this frostproof vegetable can be set out in the fall and also late-winter. A decent area might be along the garden edge where the six-to eight-foot-tall artichokes won’t dominate different plants.


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