Peculiar tubers

Tubers appeal to us because they seem to find a reasonable amount of their own food, and produce a decent crop in return. Jerusalem artichokes are easy, attractive and useful – our preferred use is to add flavour to soups and stews. Last year we did two types of sweet potato from slips grown from supermarket tubers, one typical orange fleshed variety and one purple skinned, white fleshed type, called Kumara, from New Zealand. We grew them mostly in tubs but possibly because of the poor year didn’t get very big yields, we’ll definitely try them again in future though, when we have more room to spare for experiments and to provide good shelter.

Last year’s crop of Oca (oxalis tuberosa?) from Real Seeds (the pure white variety) was very promising, and we’re growing at least as much again this year. We were a bit cautious about trying it – descriptions of “sorrel like” and “lemony” were a bit disconcerting – but very pleased with them, attractive, easy to clean little tubers and pretty, reasonably robust plants. We have fairly poor soil and will be doing them in containers again this year.

This year’s exciting experiment hasn’t even arrived yet – spotted Yacon on the Real Seeds site the other day and took it as a sign that I should order the Sue Stickland seed-saving book I’d been umming and ahhing about too (along with a few extra seeds, ahem). They seem to have nearly sold out now so hoping ours will come through in time – Simon Hickmott and PFAF both seem fairly keen on these, whereas Ulluco, which we also looked at, was less definite in terms of yield and taste, so we thought we’d hold on until Real Seeds introduce their more productive strain in a couple of years.


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