Friday 16 January 2015

Mashua and Yacon and Tiger nuts


The end of a wildly windy and wet but mild spell drove me out of  the house today to harvest the three remaining plants of Mashua before the hard frosts come - regular readers won't be surprised to hear I left a few behind but even so the crop exceeded all my usual expectations of the roots of the Andes. That's a full washing up bowl and the tubers are, compared to oca or ulluco, huge. If it wasn't for the taste they'd be a worthy addition to the potato crops, blight free, almost pest free, productive and attractive.

A few days ago I also lifted the yacon. No picture of these mucky roots, but you can imagine. I'm not much of a fan of these for eating either although I should experiment more, I think they'd do in Chinese style stir fries with five-spice powder and coriander. What I hope to do eventually is juice them and boil down for syrup in the manner of maple or birch sap, but I suspect that this year that's not going to happen. It would be nice if someone could breed a variety that wasn't quite so brittle during harvest, a lot of good roots won't keep now, not a problem if they were going straight to the juicer but no good for winter storage.

Three crowns look like they'll have propagation material for next year and they've been brought into a cold room to sit out the winter, just frost free.

Finally tiger nuts or chufa. I had great hopes for these and they were planted out in a row that initially seemed to be growing well. Then in the warmer days of summer the plants inexplicably started to wither and become loose in the soil before dying completely. I can only think the resident voles were to blame for this. I can't decide whether to try again. Sometimes it really is easier just to buy a pound or two from someone better placed than struggle on alone.

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