Sweet potatoes, for diabetics

If you’ve noticed bags with irregular bright tubers on market stalls from late fall to mid-spring, and you didn’t know what they were, we’re letting you in on a secret – it’s chicory. If you’ve never even heard of it, here’s an opportunity to enrich your knowledge, maybe give your table and body some new, fresh vitamins. And you might want to grow it yourself because it is a very modest vegetable, it thrives in every corner of the garden, and most importantly, it “plants itself”.


Chichoca comes from Latin America, and even before Columbus it was spread all over America, where the local population used the tubers as a winter food. According to the shape, cultivars can have round, cylindrical or spindle-shaped tubers. It is a perennial plant, but it is grown as an annual species.

Like a large sunflower with a miniature flower

They say thistle is the plant of the 21st century gives extraordinary yields with simple agrotechnics, it is resistant to all weather conditions and adversities, diseases, and the production is very cheap when you consider that the planting material is bought only once, and has been exploiting for ten years.

Chickweed (Helianthus tuberosus L. Compositae) or as it is also called sweet potato, sea turnip, cat’s turnip, wild potato, Jerusalem artichoke, is a perennial herbaceous plant with a sweet tuber (tuber), not very large but irregularly shaped. That plant belongs to the same family as the sunflower, they even have a similar appearance of the aerial part. The stem is annual, it can grow into a real giant, up to a height of three and a half meters, at the top of which, in our conditions, usually in September, large reddish-brown or light yellow flowers appear, similar to sunflowers, only smaller, with a diameter of only four to eight cm. Chicory is a plant with an extremely short day and blooms only when the day is shorter than 12 hours (in September), and cultivars with longer growing seasons often do not even bloom.

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Although it is vegetables with modest requirements, well-shredded, permeable (light, sandy) soil suits it best because it does not tolerate long water retention. As chicory tubers tolerate temperatures of up to -30 degrees Celsius outdoors, they can be planted from October to mid-April. Later planting reduces the yield that year. As we mentioned, chicory can be grown as an annual or perennial plant. It tolerates drought well, and until rain or watering wets the soil, it is conserved in a way and waits for suitable conditions to continue development. It stays in the same place for years, so it is not recommended to plant it in a crop rotation because it is difficult to eradicate.

She likes manure

If it is planted on a larger area, or even in one bed, the soil should first be deeply plowed or plowed with a lot of manure. It is for good growth and development of chicory need a lot of potassium. It is recommended to provide 100 kg of pure nitrogen, 50 kg of phosphorus and 150 kg of potassium per hectare. Half of the recommended dose of nitrogen is used in feeding. An excessive amount of nitrogen can give a lush, bulky above-ground mass, and care should be taken when introducing this element. During the growing season, one to two inter-row treatments with top dressing are needed. During the final processing, the rows should be slightly overturned, which affects the creation of more tubers closer to the surface that are easy to remove. In vegetation, it should be regularly hoeed to destroy weeds. Chickweed is propagated by tubers. Those that weigh 30-50 g are the most suitable for planting. It is not recommended to cut the tubers.

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It is planted in autumn or early spring, until mid-April. It is planted at an inter-row distance of 50-70 cm and 40-50 cm in a row at a depth of 6-10 cm, depending on the soil. It can also be planted in shallow furrows.

Chichoka is distinguished from other vegetables by many features, including harvesting, or removing the tubers. Namely, its tubers can be stored for a short time in any warehouse, and even in the refrigerator, they wilt after some time. Therefore, the tubers are removed as needed. Only when the ground freezes hard, they cannot be reached. For a shorter time, it can be stored in basements in wet sand or in a refrigerator at a temperature of 0-1 °C and a relative air humidity of 95-97 percent. Chicory that is removed in winter should be covered with straw or other material to avoid freezing of the soil. The tubers intended for planting are best taken out at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring, i.e. “forget them in the house”.

Harvesting starts from November and lasts until new shoots appear from them. If the yield were to be calculated per hectare, it would weigh 25 to 35 t/ha, and the green mass, which is high-quality feed for animals, 27 to 35 t/ha.

Even though it is a potato, chicory has no starch

The underground fruits of chicory are tubers (tubers), shaped like irregular potatoes, and are used as planting material for the pharmaceutical industry and human consumption. In the tuber of chicory, unlike ordinary potatoes, no starch but inulin, which is why it can be used in the diet by people suffering from diabetes and those who have problems with excess weight. It is even an extremely high-quality raw material for the industrial extraction of inulin, a polysaccharide that, upon hydrolysis, does not yield glucose, but fructose. As a human food, chicory can be used raw, finely grated and seasoned as a salad to which other vegetables can be added. Boiled or baked potatoes are used as a side dish, while special bread is prepared from the flour obtained from its tubers. Chicory tubers can also be used to produce brandy, 6 liters of 100 kilograms, and it can also be pickled as a pickle. Diabetics can use it daily in unlimited quantities because it lowers blood sugar levels.

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Similar to potatoes, so is chicory a good source of potassium, half a cup of grated fresh chicory meets 20 percent of the daily potassium needs. The same half cup contains 1.5 grams of protein and 1.2 grams of cellulose. It is a source of calcium, iron, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamins B1 and B2. As for chicory tubers, they have a better nutritional value than potatoes. In order to use all the healing properties of chicory, it should be consumed fresh. The thermally processed tuber does not have the medicinal properties characteristic of the raw tuber.

Chichoka is also good as feed for cattle

The stem and leaves are high-quality fodder, and can be cut two or three times, dried or made into silage. When the tubers are separated, the aerial part should not be thrown away. First, the young tops are torn off and the fresh ones are given to cattle, while the older ones are cut for silage. Chicory stalks are great for ensiling. Experts recommend ensiling the green mass of chicory and maize in a ratio of 40:60. Milking cows which feed on the silage of this plant per day they give four to six liters of milk more. Animals can eat thistle also raw. The fresh tuber has a thin skin and is often used as feed for pigs.

Source: AGROmedia by www.agromedia.rs.

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