Rather later than anticipated I’m reviewing my unusual tuber harvest for last year. I’ve had a few distraction in my life recently, mostly in my shop – creating a “zero waste” facility in a very short timescale thanks to a Zero Waste Scotland grant, but also getting sucked into the Permies.com forums. I guess the change in the WordPress editor hasn’t helped – I find it much slower to create a post now than it used to.
I actually dug the Yacon in the polytunnel on 22 January, and a few days later outside. By the start of February we had a prolonged spell of freezing weather and the temperatures got down to about -8 degrees Celsius. This is unusually cold for here and I have lost several other plants to the cold. Annoyingly this included some newly purchased ones that I had left outside the polytunnel without thinking that they would have been better off inside. It can’t have been that cold in the polytunnel, since the pond remained frost free. This at the same time as the river was frozen.
The Yacon all seemed to grow pretty well last year. All were at least at tall as me, although not heading for the sky outside. Several had mulitple stems and all the new ones developed some lovely flowers like tiny sunflowers. The different varieties flowered at different times, so it is unlikely I will get viable seeds, see Cultivariable . I had the following harvest of tubers:
Plant2: 350g (this one got stem rot early in the summer and the upper growth remained poor)
Plant4: 2600g (this one only one with broken tubers)
White std: I seem to have mislaid my harvest information, but I remember it was a bit less than the other two.
All the NZ plants had some broken tubers with splits. The original white plants seemed to vary quite a a lot in yeild and tuber quality. The Morado tubers have the darkest colour skin, and the flesh is also slightly orange in colour. The New Zealand is more uneven in colour and the tubers are white under the skin. I found that the flavour of the original ones were the sweetest, and the tuber sizes on the Morado and New Zealand were larger, as was the yield. The plants outside did much less well, none of them had tubers of any great size, none bigger than a fat finger perhaps.
Some of the tubers did not store too well. I think that they were rather damp and cold when they came in and they got some mould developing on the skins. Surprisingly though I still have a few that appear perfect. The last one I tried though had a slight off taste, so I think I wil compost the rest.
I have also harvested the mashua from the polytunnel. This seems to have been quite happy last year despite not having had any attention, and I got a fair amount of tubers from the plants. It didn’t flower at all though. I left some nice tubers adjacent to the polytunnel side in situ to regrow this year and they survived the cold snap and are growing away nicely. I made some chutney with most of the tubers, the spicy flavour goes well in my standard chutney recipe, although I think next time I will reduce the cinnamon and cloves.
So much for the good – now for the bad.
I did not harvest the oca before the hard frosts…..
I had carefully planted out my different coloured oca harvested from last year in the pallet garden, so that I could grow out and compare the different tubers for taste and yeild. They grew away pretty well and flowered last year. Unfortunately almost all the tubers got frosted. They develop just under the surface (in fact some were on top of the ground surface and were eaten by birds, mice or slugs….) and were not deep enough to escape damage. All the tubers were pale and soft. Only a very few tubers that were closest to the pallet seem to have escaped the frost. I didn’t have results therefore for yield or flavour comparison, I had just a few tubers to plant this year and only one seems to be sprouting in its pot. However, I have several offers of new tubers for next year so will start again. Maybe the one survivor is more frost tolerant, time might tell…