Ever since I encountered fingerling potatoes in European restaurants I wanted to grow some of my own. I find these small fat-finger-shaped tubers have a nuttier, richer taste than regular potatoes. Potato Garden in Colorado is a mail order source that sells a dozen varieties of fingerlings and it’s been fun trying various breeds. Potato Garden also introduced me to scores of strains in “main” potatoes. And they offer an exotic variety of live starters for other root crops, such as garlic, onions, and sun chokes. Their catalog provides enough basic info about growing and storing roots that it serves as a one-stop short course. For spring delivery you need to order early.
Sun Chokes: Native of North America, a type of sunflower whose tuberous roots have been eaten for millennia by Native Americans. The first recorded discovery of sunchokes in America apparently occurred in Native American gardens along the eastern coastline in the early 1600′s. The Indians called them “sun roots”. Sunchokes are delicious eaten raw as they have a crisp, juicy texture like water chestnuts. We like to slice or grate them for a zesty addition to any fruit or vegetable salad. We have found that steaming or boiling is the best way to cook them, with a little butter and Real Salt.