Also known as Chinese Artichoke, it is a vigorous mint with sweet and crispy swollen rhizomes shaped like the Michelin Man. There texture is nearly identical to water chestnuts. Chinese artichoke cultivation began in northern China around the thirteenth century. It is a plant once, harvest forever vegetable (like Jeruselum Artichoke or Horseradish). When harvested, some tubers will remain in the soil; they will sprout in the spring. All you need to do is thin the sprouts to the proper spacing.
Dark green bushy plant. Erect stems host rough textured leaves with serated edges. Grows about 18" wide and about 24" tall. Flowerstalks dont always occur but they look similar to lavendar but without the scent. This plant is not aromatic like most mints.
Roots: Crispy and Sweet. Delicious additions to salads. Make incredible pickles that take on color very well (try pickling with chive flowers to turn them purple).
Leaves: Edible but not incredible. Best when thoroughly steamed with butter and salt OR put into soups to add texture.
Plant 2" deep atop of a mounded row. Space 10" to 15" apart. Larger spacing tends to lead to larger tubers. Tuber orientation doesn't seem to matter but I feel its best to plant them horizontal. You can cut the tubers to get more plants, make sure each cutting has multiple segments. I feel it is best to plant whole tubers so they dont have to dedicate energy to healing wounds and can focus on growth. These can get weedy so put them in a place that is isolated if you are afraid of them running rampant.
Frequent shallow cultivation is well recieved by these plants. They can be crowded out by weeds if the weeds get a head start, as the plants come up in late spring after the soil has warmed a bit. Chinese artichoke likes consistent moisture, which means that mulching is a good option. Hardy down to zone 4 with ample mulch. It is a favorite food for voles/ground squirrels so if they prove to be problematice for you then growing these plants in containers is probably best.
It is time to harvest in late fall when the vegetation begins to die back. Alternatively you can harvest in early spring if you live in a mild climate mulched heavily, make sure to mark the location so you know where to dig. To harvest use a spade fork to pry up the plant while grabbing the vegetative growth. Pull up plant and lay out on a processing table. Spray down the roots with high pressure water. Pluck off the tubers from rhizomes or rake them off with your fingers.