Saturday 19 April 2008

A lazy day

Nothing much has happened today. The weather was a little overcast, tending to showers and I felt I needed a day off.

In the last few days since Paul went back to the UK I've rotavated a couple of beds, one out near the potato patch and the other in the more deer secure back garden and planted out onions, shallots, crimson flowered broad beans and the carlin peas. I've also done a lot of lawn mowing in a vain attempt to get ahead of myself on this never-ending task.

Now I have to get a grip and get the other crops organised and on their way. I suffered a huge blow when we arrived back - the oca, which I had neglected and nurtured and finally triumphed with sufficient crop to make a planting store from last November have been entirely eaten by mice. The two varieties that I had managed to keep going for six or more years completely lost. I can get more to replace them but not this year and I'm berating myself for not taking better care of them, I really thought they were in a mouse free zone. I do have some cream coloured oca tubers, bought this season from Realseeds so they will be the nucleus of a new collection but what a fool I am.


I also have these to plant - Ulluco - a tuber from the high Andes, notably Peru and as it says in the Lost Crops of the Incas
"The future of ulluco (pronounced oo-yoo-koh) seems particularly bright. In the Andes, demand is on the increase, and its attractive tubers are likely to prove popular elsewhere. The plant is easy to grow, resists frost, is moderately drought tolerant, and produces reasonable yields in marginal soils."

I know a number of other bloggers have also taken tubers of these this year, all supplied by Realseeds, and I think most of them have already got theirs in the ground. I am hampered by indecision about the best way to get these started but have decided to put the biggest eight tubers directly into the heritage bed and the smallest four into pots in order to give them a better start. They sprouted despite being in the dark and cold of a fridge and the sprouts are a little fragile but ulluco are known for good storage capabilities and the tubers seem firm and healthy.

The other issue with these indigenous and long cultivated crops is that they may carry virus diseases and other problems to weaken their vigour. I had intended to attempt a test tube clean up but have left it too late. They will have to take their chances in the open and I will not plant that area with ulluco again for a considerable while, just in case.

Hard frosts have only just ceased here in Normandy and although there is no guarantee that there won't be more I think, fingers crossed, the worst is over. I just hope mice don't like the taste.

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