It is 28 January (2013) and there are still a few small fingers of ice on the lawn, the remnants of the frozen carpet that had been in place for nine days. The photo below was taken some time during last week.
Although the temperature today is theoretically much higher than last week there is a bitterly cold and very strong wind tugging hard at everything – and I have been out harvesting!
Firstly there were some oca plants and one mashua to find. I dug some of each up in mid December and deliberately left the others to see if giving them a bit more time meant there were any more tubers.
In the case of the oca that plan did not work very well as I hardly found any. I’m not sure if there are none to be found or if I was digging in not quite the right place. There is no marker for where the plants were exactly and as I don’t want to dig around too much I decided to stop after digging around where I thought they should be. If they were there then they may well sprout up in the spring, as some did in another bed earlier this year, having overwintered. If they are not there, then either they have formed and rotted in the atrocious weather, or not formed at all.
Better news on the mashua as the one remaining plant which had been an amazing leafy abundance through the summer yielded just over one kg of reasonable sized tubers (photo below), plus another twenty small ones which I will save to replant next year. In fact I will probably save most of the harvest for re-planting. Given that it has survived a very soggy, cool summer and being just below that carpet of snow it is clearly a hardy crop.
I had an unexpected and happy discovery of four really large Jerusalem artichoke tubers growing where I thought I had one of the oca plants. As I want to transfer some to the new garden I have planted them into a pot.
The other harvest I have had today is of salad greens – lamb’s lettuce, land cress, bittercress (yes it is a “weed”) and pea shoots. The lamb’s lettuce is two varieties, one ‘normal’ one and the other a large leafed variety. One of the large plants weighed 17 g as opposed to approximately 2 g per small plant! The pea shoots have been growing in a pot on the study windowsill. The photo below shows my plate of sparkling, bright green salad with ‘normal’ lamb’s lettuce in the centre, the large leaved variety to the right, bitter cress bottom right, land cress bottom left and pea shoots upper left. I gathered 53 g of greens and an equivalent amount of lamb’s lettuce from a supermarket would cost between 70 p – £1.04. As there is absolutely masses left to pick and we use a lot of salad greens this is saving us lots of money!