Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Fistful of Ocas

Spurred from my lethargy by the signs of recent vole activity and a couple of mild frosts, I decided to lift two of the volunteer oca seedlings.  I had already received indications that there were tubers to harvest, so I wasn't surprised to discover these beauties.
While not exactly fist-filling in their dimensions, they aren't too bad considering their origins as spontaneous eruptions in the regimented realm of the rocoto bed. Who knows - maybe they would have been even bigger without competition from the chillies and the attacks of the voles.






This is the total yield from the two varieties, minus the numerous stolons and baby tubers chomped by the voles before I stepped in. Not too bad for a couple of young ragamuffins from the wrong side of town.



The Cornish Crest shows a fisherman, a tin miner and an oversized chough, which seems to have flapped in from the Lord of the Rings franchise. I'm wondering whether the miner would be willing to stretch out a hand and display what could, potentially, become another local symbol: a shiny oca tuber.  It does seem perfectly possible that oca might be established as a successful niche market crop here in the far south west, if shorter season varieties can be bred.  I've established (I think) that oca seedlings could theoretically be grown en masse outdoors and selected carefully for relevant traits; I am currently exploring the best ways of ensuring that this happens as soon as possible.  I am also proposing, somewhat immodestly, that the count(r)y's name be changed to Ocarnwall as part of a rebranding exercise culminating in a twinning ceremony with Peru.

After soaring whimsically with the choughs, gravity demands that I return forthwith to the ground and face a few facts. My days as oca's wrinkled retainer may be numbered; this Andean adventive is settling in rather well and seems quite capable of pursuing its own independent destiny with precious little input on my part. If the voles let it.

6 comments:

Ian Pearson said...

Those ones seem to carry the gene for tuber branching!

Madeline McKeever said...

Wow! very cool yellow tubers. All you have to do is dress the fisherman up as an Inca and add a condor.

annisveggies said...

You have an amazing blog! I have written a book on perennial vegetables and polycultures which is going to the editor next week. I am presently working on the appendices and want to include the best relevant websites. Is it okay to refer to yours?
Best wishes
Anni Kelsey

Rhizowen said...

Ian - could be, but being an eternal optimist, i like to think that a branched oca tuber is better than no oca tuber. Ulluco has lovely smooth tubers - just not very many of them.


Madeline - yes ponchos should obligatory on all Cornish fishing boats.

Anni - thanks for your kind comments. Please feel free to include Radix in your list of resources. Good luck with the book - what's the title?

Mark said...

Do you think the Ocarnish will agree with their name change?

The branching trait could be useful for getting lots of planting material from not very much. But I presume for any commercialisation potential, an unbranched one would be far better

Rhizowen said...

Mark - I have a few more self sown plants to dig up. It will be interesting to see whether they share the knobbly growth habit.

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