[permaculture] Planting ground nuts (apios americana)

Bob Waldrop bob at bobwaldrop.net
Mon Nov 9 20:12:20 EST 2015

Many sources say they are found along streams and creeks.  Many of our 
tubs are "behind the fence" and sheltered from the fierce Oklahoma sun 
although everything back there gets 6-7 hours of sun light daily during 
the growing season.  Do the squirrels dig them up?

On 11/7/2015 7:16 AM, dwoodard at becon.org wrote:
> Robert, from experience and reports of other, Apios americana likes 
> soil with plenty of organic matter that does not dry out. We have some 
> in a naturalized park here that are climbing cup plants (Silphium 
> perfoliatum) in full sun in a meadow, and one on Amelanchier laevis 
> (smooth/Allegheny serviceberry) by the north edge of a grove. One in a 
> house lot ran all over the place under the lawn and sprouted in 
> several surprising places. Squirrels seem to be fond of them.
> Doug Woodard
> St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
> On Fri, 6 Nov 2015 23:19:05 -0600, Bob Waldrop <bob at bobwaldrop.net> 
> wrote:
>> 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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