Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Who Tampered With My Yampah?

I have a guilty secret. You're looking at it, or rather, them. Magnifying glasses at the ready - these are my yampah roots. I've been debating for several months as to whether I should reveal them in all their maddeningly minute glory. That time has now arrived.

Although yampah roots are spoken of very highly as a wild food, this rate of growth really doesn't bode well for their general productivity as a garden crop.  Let's just say the potato can lie in its bed a little longer without fear of being usurped.

As so often follows failure, a period of doubt and self-recrimination ensued. Was it the compost, the temperature, transplanting shock? Insect damage perhaps? Something or someone was to blame. Maybe I'm an even less competent horticulturist than I ever realised. I have had them stashed in some vermiculite, hidden from view, while pondering on all of this.

Then last night, I was idly perusing a document from the USDA Forest Service on a related yampah species, Perideridia erythrorhiza, when I came across this quote:

Work in the greenhouse indicates that juveniles will senesce 8-12 weeks after emerging, even if kept well watered, and will not flower the first year. During this early period of growth, a single small tuber 1cm or less is developed, which then remains dormant until the following spring. 

That's it. That's exactly what happened.

So roast yampah roots won't be on the table this Christmas, but I might get another stab at growing this queen of North American wild foods. And it's really not my fault.

5 comments:

Mark said...

There is not a lot that anyone cacn say, although I am wiping tears from my eyes as I type. I agree potatoes need not fear for their supremacy.

Madeline McKeever said...

That must be a relief to know. I wonder if there is any excuse for my small maca roots.

Rhizowen said...

Mark - I'm glad you're as moved by this as I am.


Madeline - yes, I think maca could win the yampah award for pitifully slow growth. Maybe overwintering it, like you have done, is the best way.

Cally said...

Did someone sneeze? They are tiny indeed, let's hope the 2nd year produces something that will delight.

I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog but realise it has the ability to shift time. I had great plans to finally get the woollens washed now that we have the rare combo of dry sun AND light wind with no gale. AH well, the woollens can wait, my thirst for unusual veg knowledge cannot. I must add you to my blog list immediately.

Rhizowen said...

Cally - Thaks :) Never mind time shifts - I'd be happy if the yampahs shifted shape into something much more useful i.e. bigger - much bigger. Not all edible/ tasty wild plants make it through the Radix screening process. Perhaps yampah will be one of those. No worries -t here always plenty of new candidates waiting in the wings.

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