Archive for the ‘Tubers & Other Root Vegetables’ Category

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Mandy and her partner run a section of a cooperatively bought piece of land and run their Incredible Vegetables enterprise, as much as I would like to explain some details about their project, I will most likely be mirroring exactly what is already in the interview. Here are a few previous posts (Post 1) & (Post 2) regarding Incredible Vegetables for those who haven’t seen them yet.

What was your inspiration to create your enterprise? did you already have this in mind when you obtained your little strip of land or was it later on?

We didn’t have an enterprise in mind when we first obtained the land. We wanted to be self sufficient in vegetables, that was our main priority. The enterprise essentially developed from sharing what we were doing on social media and people starting asking us about the plants we were growing. There is such an interest in perennial vegetables that once people heard we were experimenting with such plants we had a huge number of requests. We thought why don’t we try and grow and supply a few of the harder to find edible perennials? It all developed from there and Incredible Vegetables was launched!

What is your reason for concentrating on unusual / bizzarre vegs and edible plants?

We spent many years as  ‘regular’ growers. By that I mean growing stuff in the back garden, including all the things you would normally find in a vegetable garden. We thought there must be more to eat and grow and there must be a different way of doing it. There are a myriad of edimentals and perennial vegetables out there and once you start researching them it is pretty hard to stop. Also we wanted to move away from enormous amount of work that annual growing involves.
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Last Summer I added Oca and Ulloco Tuberous crops to my vegetable grow list in my garden, having harvested them recently, I can only advise that personally they are not worth the effort due to the small yield. This opinion is mainly helpful to those in countries with a similar climate to the UK, these plants are really from the Andean areas in South America where they are guaranteed to have more abundant sunshine.

Perennial tuber Kit: Incredible Vegetables

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

Whilst I did get a few tubers per plant that were of a decent size, the rest were usually really tiny and even too small to be able to clean properly for culinary use.
I will be keeping a small amount of stock growing in one pot just for the sake of having some aside and re-seeding every year, this will prevent the need to buy more in the event of trying again.

On another note, the same goes for Chinese Artichokes AKA Crosneys, although the yield was quite big, the actual tubers were tiny and most broke whilst harvesting! Oca have a far more worthwhile yield compared with these so for any new gardeners interested to try unusual tubers out, the Oca are probably best after Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes).

Simply put, if I had a larger piece of land (I have a very small typical UK garden), and some more time on my hands, I would probably have a dedicated area to grow these crops and experiment with soil types (my soil is quite heavy). So, I am not entirely giving up, just putting these tubers on a backburner list whilst I find other crops to dedicate my limited space to.

To order any Unusual tuber vegetables in the UK / Europe, take a look at Incredible Vegetables, they supply full info on planting etc.

Hi everybody! In a few days it will ALREADY BE MARCH!! It’s amazing how the seasons creep up on us so quickly ! … ?

After my first year growing Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes in 2014) and with a very good success, I have decided to try out some other tubers due to my ever increasing interest in Perennials and my overall plan on growing a large percentage of my food crops as perennial with a ever decreasing percentage of Annuals.

After a reasonable amount of research and the fact that I hold quite an interest in South American Ancient History, Two of the new tubers on my list for 2015 are Ulloco and Oca (originally grown by the Incas), the third being Chinese Artichoke (Crosney).

Just a couple of days back I received my order from the crew at Incredible Vegetables, their site caught my attention as they specialise in Perennial and also unusual / non-common vegetable crops for the average back garden grower or allotment holder … I recommend to take a look at the site and see if there is anything you fancy, they run an ebay shop too if that suits your convenience better!

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

The package contained Oca and Ulloco tubers, they sell various tubers etc. & also packaged kits containing many tuber varieties, I ordered a kit but had to email them to make a deal as I already have Artichokes from my previous year and also Chinese Artichokes bought a couple weeks ago from another seller before I discovered Incredible Veg’s, in short I bought only a kit of Oca and Ulloco’s – Click Here for the package opening post from when I received them (Photo’s / explanation).

These are all going to be interesting to grow and experiment with around my garden, they all grow to various sizes and it will be quite fun experimenting where and what they can be mixed with? For example, Jerusalem Artichokes grow exceptionally tall and leave the ground below open for ground cover crops (lets face it, the sun doesn’t sit all day at the 12 o’clock position) so the shade won’t be an all day event for what you add in to your stacking plan! Oca seem to grow into medium sized bushes and Ulloco seem to be low / ground cover, this is all based on image searches …
I highly recommend Tubers in general but also to get these four varieties as you have tall, medium and lower / ground cover sizes to mix into your vegetable beds.
The one positive charachteristc of Jerusalem Artichokes that ”stands out” for me is that they are shade tolerant, so, due to their height they can be sown in a place where in the beginning they won’t really get much sun, then in the end once they grow taller, they will find enough sunlight to be able to grow well and produce tubers. (behind a garden shed or along a shady wall are great examples – using up places in your garden which are useless for other crops)

Tip for buying tubers that will only be planted in March onwards:

Many sellers tell you to keep the tubers in moist compost medium in a cool place until planting out time (some tubers cannot go into the ground yet), I tried this with my Chinese Artichokes and unfortunately, they sprouted inside the ”cool” cupboard!
The tip is: If you are not sure of this new variety you are growing, then split up your seed tubers into 2-3 trays, keep one tray in a outdoor shed / garage (covered and not in sunlight etc), one in a cupboard and maybe some in the fridge (moisten the compost or keep them wrapped in kitchen towel (tissue) then in a plastic bag on a shelf you don’t use as much & check regularly.
If you are interested to try these out, it is definitely Not Too Late you still have tons of time to prepare a bed/s for them and order

After a successive year growing other tubers (Other than potatoes) and enjoying leaving the crop underground until I wanted to make use of them (Great storage advantage), I decided to order more varieties and happily stumbled on a site specialising in exactly that! well they sell other things, not only tubers.

After a few videos online and reading a blog post here and there, I placed my order at Incredible Vegetables (I originally intended to order one of their Tuber Seed Kits) but realised that I already have Jerusalem Artichokes and Chinese Artichokes so had to order only the Oca and Ulluco (South American Tuber Vegetables) separately.

Check them out if you are interested in Unusual / Rare varieties of vegetables, they also have Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook pages for those who prefer connecting via social media.

Package of Oca and Ulluco just arrived and opened

They supply Plant information on the Oca and Ulluco regarding growing, history and even how to cook & eat!

Good plant information was supplied on all varieties ordered, this included how to grow and cooking / eating options…

12x Oca & 5x Ulluco Tubers from incredible vegetables

Keep an eye out throughout the year! I will be posting various updates as the season goes on, not only on these plants but also the Jerusalem & Chinese Artichokes, I will definitely do some stacking between them so looking forward to the experimenting as well!

Some of you may have used the method of egg boxes to hold seed potatoes in whilst their sprouts become shoots and while waiting for the date they should go outside, for the others who haven’t … here’s probably the best (Modified) way to use egg boxes especially for the added strength:

Stuff needed:

  1. Scissors,
  2. Egg Box/es
  3. Dark Cupboard / Pantry etc.

Step 1: Cut the closing flap off and recycle it

Step 2: Now cut / separate the lid from the base

DSC06886_1536x1152

Step 3: Place the base into the lid

Step 4: Place Seed Potatoes into each cavity and place the container in a dark cupboard or Pantry etc. Done !!

That’s pretty much it! Enjoy the growing season ahead! …..

Here I will be discussing High Value Perennial Vegetables that are also, low maintenance! This will be just a quick article as we can all go into loads of detail later on in another related article where I may discuss more / related plants.

Right now, in England we are experiencing another mild winter (no complaints here!), with the odd cold day here and there and, the inevitable frosts in the mornings, I cannot stress how valuable it is, knowing that right outside in my garden, there are Artichoke Tubers sitting underground waiting to be harvested.
I unfortunately didn’t weigh my bounty (last year was the first year that I tried growing Jerusalem Artichokes) and I can only estimate that I got more than 3 kg worth with still the tubers from Two plants sitting underground so, possibly all together, provided that the last two produced as much as the others, I reckon I may have grown around 5kg’s of Tubers!!
The fact that you can leave tubers such as these in the ground until they are needed, is incredibly valuable to me and hence why, here  I am appealing to my readers to get hold of a few varieties of various tuber species such as Oca, Chinese Artichoke, Jerusalem Artichoke etc. Designate a place in your garden especially for these!

Jerusalem artichokes 3

Freshly Harvested Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes are members of the Sunflower Family and so, they do grow quite large (Up to 15 feet!) and work very well to provide privacy or as a wind break ( If you live in a high wind area there may be a need to stake them as a precaution ). Their stems and foliage make great material for composting or chop and drop as the leaves mostly still stick to the stem even after they are black and completely dry, the stems would serve very well in the middle to higher layers of a Hugelkultur Mund. Once harvested, merely keep a few smaller tubers and replant them where you want the next years batch to grow, about 10cm (3 /16th inch) deep , each tuber will produce at least one plant, medium to large tubers can be sliced into half or thirds to create seed tubers too. Check out my own Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Recipe Here

Harvested Chinese Artichokes

Chinese Artichokes are smaller bush type plants (Compared to the Jerusalem Artichokes) and according to this blogger, 1kg of tubers come from one seed tuber.

Large Oca Tuber – UK Grown

OCA (Oxalis Tuberosa) aren’t as vigorous as the above two, they look more like a bush and the tubers are still a bit rare due to being from South America originally, for this they are some of the most expensive tubers after Yacon.

Freshly pulled Yacon Tubers

Yacon are a larger tuber but also quite more expensive, my contact will sell a growing tip which will have about 3 shoots coming out for a hefty price, they do guarantee at least one plant from the growing tip and you can also always just cut out the growing tips next harvest to build your Yacon population!

These plants require almost zero maintenance once established and, again, their edible roots can be left underground until you want to harvest them! Not to forget that you will never need to buy the seed tubers again unless you eat them all!