Polytunnel harvest #1

I’ve been a bit distracted recently, hence the gap in postings…partly due to a lovely present my mum organised for myself and my sisters at christmas.  She and my younger sisters did a bit of family research and made a photo book.  This had a family tree at the start and then photos of our direct ancesters, many of which I’d never seen, and then photos of us through the years together with various niblings (nephew and nieces) as they have arrived.  Anyway I thought it was brilliant, and it inspired me to try and prove out a few of the family legends.  So far neither the eloping daughter of an earl, the smugglers inn in cornwall, or the rear admiral seem to have much basis in history, but I’ve had much fun on my mum’s side of the family.  My dad’s side could be a bit more challenging, since his grandmother came from Switzerland.  Anyway, a fascinating way to play detective, but does mean that I’m a bit behind with what’s been going on.  The other reason I missed a bit of time, was that I wanted to post about the mashua and Yacon harvests, but I have mislaid the data on weight of mashua harvest in the polytunnel.  I’ll just have to rely on pictures to tell the story….

First the Yacon harvest:  I had grown it both in the tunnel and outside in 2016 and both were a little small.  I think that the ones in the polytunnel were a little dry, and the ones outside were…….not, also I still don’t really have much shelter, and the wind and cool of a Skye summer didn’t seem to suit them much.  I will say that the plants all survived and I did get some tubers, albeit small.  In 2017 I propagated my saved tubers in the spring (you basically divide the crown with a knife so each bit has a growing point).  Four of the shoots went on to develop strong plants which were duly planted out in the tunnel.  If I had more strong plants, I would have planted a couple outside anyway, but felt they would have a better chance inside  There were another two or three plants which never seemed strong enough to plant out, so I just left them in pots in the tunnel.  The ones that were planted out seemed to be quite happy and grew away well.  This year I did manage to water them fairly well, although they didn’t get any extra food.

Yacon growing in polytunnel 2017

I harvested the Yacon late in December.  Each plant had died back on top due to frosts.  Because I did not want more plants, and felt that dividing them had made them weaker, I decided to just break off the storage tubers (the edible bits) and replant the whole root crown again.  The total harvest was 8 tubers weighing a total of 1lb 12oz from 4 plants.  I think that the watering was alright last year, but maybe the nutrition in the soil wasn’t that good….I’ll try and make sure they get plenty of compost, and maybe liquid feed as well in 2018.  I also didn’t move the plants.  The original intent was to disturb them as little as possible, but in the end I dug up the whole plant, rather than just breaking off the storage tubers, so it would have been very little trouble to move the plants.

digging yacon 2017
Digging Yacon root in polytunnel
Total Yacon harvest from 4 plants

I haven’t noticed any top growth yet, I’m hopeful however that the plants haven’t died in the hard frosts that we have had this year.  I covered them thickly with fleece, straw, dead top growth etc. which hopefully, together with the protection of the tunnel itself, will have been enough.  I also (hopefully) have the Yacon plants in pots, which have been overwintering in a straw filled box – time now to plant these out again.  I also have a couple of Yacon seedlings whuch I grew from seed from cultivariable.  They may be rubbish, but they are new.  I’ll find a spot in the tunnel to grow these out this year.

Cake made with Yacon root

Yacon is the only vegetable I’m aware of which is a root that is used as a fruit.  It genuinely tastes sweet, like a crunchy melon.  Although there wasn’t a huge harvest, I’m unable to think of any other ‘fruit’ that can be harvested on Skye in December….Anyway, I’ve baked it into cake (adapted a pear cake recipe very successfully!)  also it is very nice in place of pineapple to give a sweet crunch in sweet and sour sauces, or in our family ‘risotto’.  The only thing I noticed there was that when kept as leftovers it was noticable that the Yacon had discoloured to a dirty grey colour – still tasted OK though.

I’ll post a bit about the mashua in a separate post.

2 thoughts on “Polytunnel harvest #1

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