Monday, 9 May 2011

I Spy With My Little Eye

Something beginning with O.

Yes, the first oca seedling of 2011 has appeared, not entirely unexpectedly, in last year's oca bed. No squirreling away of seeds in little envelopes, no meticulous bagging of developing pods, just a healthy little plant reporting for duty. Makes me wonder whether I should just let the little darlings get on with it, which is probably the method adopted by the Andean farmers who have developed this crop over several thousand years.

Call me pretentious, but I've decided to name it Prima, the first oca of the 2011 season.

Prima's germination and growth may have been accelerated by the unusually warm April we've just experienced.  Looking back at last year's spontaneous oca eruption, I notice that it began somewhat later, in June.

It's fairly easy to distinguish Prima from last year's tubers which are also emerging all over the place: it has a lovely pair of cotyledons - small, but perfectly formed. Just like Adam and Eve's lack of navels, no shoot from a tuber produces these tell-tale appendages. And when I say small, I do mean small - take a look at the adjacent dandelion pappus for an idea of scale. Diminutive stature notwithstanding, I am quietly confident that Prima will be joined by several siblings before the month is out.

Much more obvious than any oca seedlings and frankly, rather disturbing, are the hordes of talet volunteers springing up like leguminous bindweed.  The pencil at the bottom of the picture gives some idea of their size. Will no one rid me of these turbulent talets? I'm going to have to evict them; unless someone wants to intercede on their behalf, I'll simply have to hoe them off. A shame, but it does demonstrate that this plant is a survivor and a tasty one at that.

8 comments:

IAP said...

Early! I'll start keeping an eye on my beds, tho' due to weed control measures, I think there's only a small chance of seedlings.
The talet seems like a good contender for fixed-bed self-perpetuating polycultures.

Vegetable Heaven said...

It's surprising how tenacious some plants are. In spite of my nurturing of tomatoes and bringing them indoors at night, there's always a hardy soul or two that manages to germinate and grow in the perishing cold greenhouse border. I suppose by growing those on, I'd be selecting for hardiness.

Rhizowen said...

Hi IAP - yes, much earlier than I had anticipated. Maybe the warmest April since the Cretaceous has something to do with it? Hope the talets do well for you. They do taste good, especially served with ocas.

Hi Veg Heaven - that sounds like a very interesting and worthwhile line of experimentation to me.

Mark said...

Prick out the talets, plant them up and sell them. Spread them around Cornwall, it could become the talet centre of the colder part of the planet. Did the talet seeds germinate - just looking for an update on them and wondering how long it took if they did?

Mark said...

Apologises, I looked at the latest update first then the one where you replied. Still waiting on some that I have planted to germinate.

Rhizowen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhizowen said...

Hi Mark

The Gardens North ones are doing very well and need potting on. I scarified them carefully and kept them at room temperature - think they came up within two weeks. If you'd like some of the bigger ones I'm about to evict, email your address again.

Mark said...

My previous university email has been deactivated through lack of use, so I no longer have your email. Could you email it to me through mbrmark@gmail.com. I will then send you my current address. yes I would be interested in some talet! Thanks.

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