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Gayton gardener gives advice on growing Jerusalem artichokes and cleaning your tools

In his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment column, gayton gardener Jamie Marsh looks at tasks in the garden and greenhouse.

I’ve grown something new this year and it’s time to harvest them. They are part of the sunflower (helianthus) family and the Latin name is Helianthus tuberous

Sunflower with tubers, any ideas? Yes, it’s the Jerusalem artichoke. I grew mine by planting tubers much like you do potatoes but you can also grow them from seed.

Jerusalem artichoke tubers
Jerusalem artichoke tubers

I planted a few tubers in large pots way back in March. The main reason I planted them in a pot is because my new allotment wasn’t ready. I planted them out into the raised bed when I’d finished making them.

I almost forgot what they were. In the summer I saw these five-foot plants growing. With beautiful sunflowers on the top, helianthus tuberosus was flowering.

They grew really well and as I was clearing the plot last week, I remembered what these now brown remnants were and proceeded to lift the artichokes, by carefully pushing a garden fork under the dried flowers stalk and slowly lifting up to reveal dozens of these small maggot shaped artichokes.

I was quite thorough with my search for the tubers because these plants are tough and vigorous, they need little maintenance and will even grow in a partially shaded spot. So every small tuber you leave in the ground will grow another plant.

There are so many recipes for Jerusalem artichokes, but I just choose to roast them with lots of garlic until they were soft and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside like the perfect roast potatoes to accompany any meal,

This weekend just gone I’ve performed a very important job in the garden, well I was in the greenhouse really. I’ve cleaned, sharpened and oiled all my gardening tools.

Let’s start with the large ones like spades, forks, hoes etc. All I did with those was give them a good brush off to remove any soil, then took a piece of rag and a few drops of camellia oil and wiped it all over the metal end to stop them from rusting, and as my tools have wooden handles, I oiled those as well.

Moving on to my secateurs. I have a small ‘Crean Mate Rust Eraser’ which is an indispensable scouring block for cleaning sap, resin, rust and other gunk from the blades of your secateurs, snips and scissors. Again, use a few drops of the camellia oil on the blades then rub the eraser all over – they come up like new.

Once clean, it's time to sharpen your trusty garden essential tool.

Obviously, there are so many things you can use to sharpen tools, but my chosen method is with a sharpening stone.

My particular stone is a whetstone, and just as the name says, but not spelt, it needs to be wet, so leaving it in a bucket of water for a few hours is perfect

My stone is made especially for secateurs as it has three flat sides and one concave edge which follows the curve of the blades.

It is also great for putting edges on most shears, snips and pruning knives. Last of all I wiped my trusty hand brush over with the now well-oiled rag just to prevent it from soaking up any water.

If you have any questions about my allotment, send an email to jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

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