April came in like a lion, waving a rainy mane, blowing down tree branches, making the new blossoms on cherry treees shiver. There is nothing to fear. Frost date for my county is mid-May. While it is not to early to plant peas, potatoes, radishes and edible flowers such as calendulas, the tenderer crops will have be cossetted indoors for a few weeks yet. Mine are tucked into recycled yogurt containers and clear plastic boxes. Cake boxes from the grocery store make wonderful containers for potted seedlings. I find them fairly efficient as mini greenhouses provided that I do not forget that without adequate air circulation, my seedlings will succumb to the dreaded damping off fungus.
At the moment, I have Pink Oaxacan, Bulgarian, Fig, Hilbilly, Delicious and Jetsonic tomatoes planted in peat pots. In addition, I have Volcano and Peter peppers, Finissimo a Pala Verde basil in a motley collection of recicled containers. I am anxious to get out and plant the Jerusalem artichokes, the misnamed, yellow flowered plant. Heliantus tuberosus produces tuberers, as its scientific appelation indicates. Its place of origin is Virginia, where Sir Walter Raleigh found it in 1585. Jerussalem is thought to be a corruption of the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. In French, the tuber is known as Tupinambour, from the Tupi word Tupinamba, a Native Brazilian coalition whose members tended to eat French people around the time that good Sir Walter was plundering the natural resources of Native Americas. Toupinambour means uncouth and I suppose the French have a legitimate reason to the manners of the Tupinamba slightly objectionable. Nothing is known about the thoughts of the latter on the former. I imagine they might have said,
“Might taste good if washed thoroughly.”
The bathing habits of XVI Century Europeans are neither here nor there. Sunchokes, by any other name are delicious baked with cream and sprinkled with nutmeg. Plant yourself a row.