Oca plants need time after the autumn equinox to form tubers. The top growth is felled by hard frosts and they continue to work below ground for some weeks afterwards. I dug up a few plants in early December. They were in an experimental location in rather deep shade between two trees, but they had grown well above ground during the summer despite the conditions. So I was really disappointed to find that there were only a few small tubers. However it seemed that perhaps they had not finished making their below ground bounty as there were some underground “stems” with swollen bulges along them that looked like they were probably still continuing to grow.
Therefore I decided to leave the other plants a few weeks longer in the hope that they would have completed making their tubers by then. Since then it has been raining relentlessly most days and I have been more than a little anxious about the fate of the oca, hoping that the tubers would be coping with the soggy conditions.
I must confess to being a bit of a fair weather gardener but today there was no choice, it was about my only window of opportunity to get outside and see what had been happening. The oca plants I dug up today happily had considerably more tubers on than those of three weeks ago and apart from one tiny one were all in excellent condition.
There are still some more plants to dig, but the soggy weather got the better of me and I retreated indoors after less than an hour outside! Today’s haul are drying indoors at the moment and I hope to be able to weigh them tomorrow. When I have had a chance to weigh everything and add up the total quantities obtained this year I will write the results up in another post.
This year I have grown mashua for the first time. I planted three tubers, all in fairly shady spots and dug up two of them today. The first was growing beneath an old greengage tree in a very small new bed made last year. This was an experiment consisting largely of twigs and sticks from shrubs and trees roughly covered by some spare soil. The mashua grew plenty of top growth and was kept company in the bed by oca, wild spinach, lathyrus tuberosus, wild garlic and a few wild flowers that happened along. I’m not sure why but this mashua plant did not produce any tubers.
The second mashua grew up a hazel tree, in close proximity to two Jerusalem artichokes, a potato plant and raspberries. I was very relieved to find a small collection of tubers at the base of the stems, which will also be weighed when they are dry. Fingers crossed for the third plant which grew like a monster and smothered everything near it. It has not long died down and I will maybe dig it up in a couple of weeks’ time.