[permaculture] Planting ground nuts (apios americana)

Bob Waldrop bob at bobwaldrop.net
Sat Nov 7 00:19:05 EST 2015

I planted ground nuts today.  I had ordered them earlier this year and 
had forgotten about them, lol, and they arrived this week.  I received 
24, planted 23 and ate 1.  I thought, "Well, if I am going to plant all 
these I better make sure they are tasty.

So I saved one and cooked it instead of planting it. I peeled it 
(although next time I am going to try them unpeeled), and it was easy 
enough to peel, the skin looked more woody than they turned out to be. I 
sliced them and fried them in bacon grease until they caramelized (which 
happened fairly quick). Dash of salt, and voila, and tasty treat. And it 
was tasty. No wild taste, no bitterness, a little sweetness. . . as the 
literature suggests, they do taste like potato, although I didn't detect 
any "nuttiness" to the flavor which some say they experienced.
The flesh, even after cooking, is more firm than a potato, but they were 
quite tasty. Fortunately I had already planted the other 23 so I wasn't 
tempted to slice another one up to fry with my eggs and bacon.

I'm attaching a picture of the cooked, caramelized ground nuts and a 
picture of the ground nut before slicing and frying.

I planted most of them in big tubs, which was suggested online as an 
easy way to harvest the tubers. But I planted a few close to clumps of 
Maximilien sunflowers, along a fence and at the edge of my Jerusalem 
artichoke patch. . Reportedly they have a pretty purple flower, so I 
thought they would enjoy climbing on the maximiliens and their purple, 
which shows up in August apparently, would be a nice counterpoint to the 
yellow of the sunflower.

There's been some talk about apios americana as part of a perennial 
"Three Sisters". Traditionally, they were corn, beans, and squash. We 
could maybe use them to design a perennial 3 sisters with Jerusalem 
artichokes, ground nuts (apios americana). Not sure what perennial could 
take the place of squash. We'd be looking for something low growing with 
a lot of foliage. . .

Eric Toensmeier (he of Perennial Vegetables fame) suggests Stachys 
affinis a/k/a crosnes or Chinese artichokes. That would be three plants 
producing edible tubers in one pile, so to speak, which would make 
harvest easy, just dig 'em up and sort 'em out. But reading online about 
the crosnes it says you have to clip them to 6 inches and never let them 
flower, which sounds like more work than I would want to invest, also, 
part of the purpose of squash in the three sisters is to shade the 
ground and thus suppress weeds.

I think I'll plant a few of my Jerusalem artichoke tubers this winter in 
the big tubs with the ground nut. And maybe by spring we'll have figured 
out a proper third candidate for the perennial three sisters.

Any ideas for a third candidate for a perennial three sisters?

Bob Waldrop, Okie City

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