This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol4", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
This tuberous-rooted plant is closely related to the common Sunflower, and resembles it in appearance. Except in very hot seasons and in the most favoured spots, however, it rarely flowers in the British Islands. This is rather in its favour from a market growers point of view, as flowering would tend probably to a considerable decrease in the size and quantity of the underground potato-like tubers. Owing to its great vigour, the Jerusalem Artichoke is an excellent plant for poor and badly drained ground, as the evaporation of moisture from the leaves is great during the period of growth. (See Vol. I, p. 120).
The Jerusalem or Potato Artichoke is an easily cultivated vegetable for which the demand is very fluctuating. It is generally planted in the bottom of balks, like Potatoes. Soot, wood ashes, and potash are good manures. The plants require earthing in the summer, as potatoes do, but watch must be kept so that all horse hoeings and the earthing are finished before the tops grow too high, or the Whipple tree will break them off; and where this occurs the plant will spend its energy in producing a bunch of stems instead of tubers.
The tops, when green, are useful forage for horses, cattle, or sheep. Lifting may commence in October and continue all the winter. The tubers are quite hardy - no frost will affect them - so that they can be left in the ground.
There are two sorts in cultivation - the "red" and the "white". The latter is the stronger grower and produces the heaviest crops, though customers will be found sometimes to ask for the red. The Artichoke, by its strong growth, forms a good crop to plant on land that has got foul, but as every little piece of tuber left in the land will grow in the following spring, it needs to be followed itself by a strong crop, and one that will admit of the horse hoe being used freely.
The Artichoke has of recent years developed a fungoid disease which attacks the stalk when nearly full-grown and kills the plant. Little is known of this disease yet, and no remedy for it has been found.
The small and broken tubers that cannot be marketed, if cooked, make good food for pigs. [w. G. L].