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Full Circle / Deb Darr

Question:

I recently saw what I thought was a vegetable at a produce stand. It was called a "Jerusalem artichoke." It resembled something that looked like ginger root. How does one go about cooking and eating it?

Answer:

Jerusalem artichokes are related, believe or not, to the sunflower family. What you saw in the market was a tuber that many people refer to as a "sun choke."

These tubers are easily grown. They can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush, thinly sliced and used in green salads or steamed in stir-fry cooking.

The sun choke grows about six to seven feet tall and produces a yellow flower. When the stalk of the plant dies down, the tuber that grows around the base of the plant is ready to be gently dug up.

Be careful, however -- the sun choke can multiply and you may find yourself needing to set up a roadside stand to sell the extra tubers!

Question:

I am getting frustrated with the birds in my garden. I have seen stellar jays dig up my peas and lettuce seedlings, and when I replant the birds gobble up the seedlings again! Can you send some help my way?

Answer:

Shame on those two-legged critters! I would try these suggestions: Cover your seedlings with a mesh-like wire -- the kind used for screen door use. Tent the mesh over the seedlings using a U-shaped wire. Insert the wire into the earth covered by the mesh, making sure the mesh is stable and won't he blown away by the wind.

After the seedlings are established with leaves, it should be safe to remove the mesh covering.

In addition to using the mesh, you can also hang bird-feeders filled with sunflower seeds -- another thing jays like -- "away" from your garden to distract the birds!

Update:

I was recently informed that pouring boiling water from a tea kettle works on those nasty grasses that grow between the cracks in your sidewalk. Hey, I'm gonna try it. It beats the cost of weed spray if it works. I'll keep you folks posted!

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