Wednesday 14 January 2015

Crop curation

Not a great picture, sorry

Finally, the tubers are counted. Pathetic aren't they. To be fair, these were grown from the survivors of the great deer attack in 2013 before the fence was installed but I was hoping for a better return.

From the top left, oca Rose Pink originally from a another enthusiasist, Ian Pearson I think, who gave me two types from his breeding programme. A very light pink and white and a slightly darker pink and white one which was very similar. One of these has fallen by the wayside but I'm not sure which. Anyway, what's there is barely enough to try next year - a story that's going to be repeated again and again sadly.

Still on the top line the next oca is the "shocking" pink variety I saved from Waitrose all those years ago. As can be seen they make a good sized tuber when they're happy but again I don't have enough to actually eat any.

In the middle at the top is the so called Wild ulluco. These were sent to me in a selection pack by Bill Whitson of Cultivariable seeds and this is the first year I've grown them. Compared to the other ulluco they finished early and I wonder if a greater yield would have happened had I been able to keep the plants going a little longer. Anyway, there's enough there to try again, if it seems worth it.

Next along that row are the ulluco I've managed to keep going from my original Realseeds varieties. They might possibly be Cusco Market if a name is helpful and last year I tried growing the two very slightly differing variants separately to see if it was possible to distinguish them more clearly. The jury is still out. These are the pinker sort, and immediately below the more yellow type. It's obvious that some are pinker than others and in the yellow team ditto. So who can tell?

Finally at the end on their own are the Purple ulluco  also from Cultivariable. These did best of all this year (not saying much) and look clean and attractive. I may have enough tiddlers to offer a few for swaps if anyone is interested in giving this most unrewarding novelty a go.

On the left again for the bottom row, just two tiny white oca tubers (Realseeds, years ago) survive. These white ones were the only reliable flowerers I had, so seed breeding looks like a no go area for a while yet. Hopefully I can bring them back from the brink.

Next to them the dark red New Zealand type collected from Waitrose at the same time as the pink. I have a particular fondness for these, the colour is pretty and I've already lost and found them back in 2007/8 when the crop failed but I found some volunteers from a previous year in a piece of land returned to scrub.

In the middle at the bottom some white ulluco from Bill. I am a fool as these were sent from his trials and identified only by a working title, some letters and numbers which I kept meaning to transcribe somewhere safe but then forgot to do. So I've no idea what they are exactly. However, they were chosen as part of an attempt to get flowers for seed production and I've been calling them 'flowering' on labels. Interesting looking long white tubers but not many of them. Another one to nurture (or not) next year.

Next to those the yellower Cusco Market ulluco mentioned above.

It's not a very inspiring collection. This year was, in terms of late maturing root crops, practically perfect with a long golden autumn and next to no serious frost before Yule but the field crops were non-existant and the potted ones nearly the same. I keep hoping I'll perfect my growing techniques and start to get usuable quantities. I'm beginning to think that this isn't ever going to happen.

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