Monday, 7 November 2011

A Profusion of Pods

The mild weather over the past few weeks has led to a bumper crop of oca pods. There are many hundreds, if not thousands of them adorning my plants at the moment.  It may be a bit optimistic to harvest them all before frost strikes, but I'm going to give it my best shot.  There's no way that bagging them individually can be achieved, so I'm just gathering those that are close to ripening and storing them as described previously; it seems to work.  I'm not the only one experiencing success either - Ian at Growing Oca reports similar success, as does David Taylor, who has been contributing to a discussion about oca seed production on the Radix Facebook Page.



Here's an oca tuber from one of last year's seedlings, looking plump and well developed.









The flip side - literally - tells another story: vole damage.  Not content with eating fully formed ones, they also enjoy severing the stolons to which the developing tubers are attached.  In addition to this outrage, they've conducted some impressive pumpkin carving on our squashes, many of which are scarred by hundreds of tiny incisor marks. Ah, the joys of wildlife gardening.



While I was collecting the pods from the volunteer seedlings, I couldn't resist tunneling beneath the surface, just like the voles.  And this is what I found - a quite impressive cluster of tubers, all things considered.  So it's possible for oca seedlings to appear spontaneously, flower, produce seeds and tuberise - all within one growing season.  I think this is what they call progress.

7 comments:

Catofstripes said...

It was definitely a good year for flowers, even my usually recalcitrant varieties appeared to have blooms (I wondered if I'd muddled planting rows) but I was too taken up elsewhere to follow through with seed capture. Maybe there will be seedlings come up next year although I had planned to to be ruthless with volunteers before the entire garden is taken over!

Robert Brenchley said...

Any chance of seeds? Mine flower every year, around October, but I haven't seen a seed pod yet.

I used to grow cacti, and what happened there was that species fromSouth America often wouldn't flower here. Occasionally one did, in a long, hot summer. Seeds from that one would produce plants which flowered a little more often, until after a few generations, they did so every year. Hopefully something similar will happe with oca, if we keep selecting.

Mark said...

Definately better than the yampah! Keep on growing Oca, it seems to have much potential.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Wow, first year production of tubers is interesting. If you ever have any seeds that you can spare, let me know as I'd love to try them. Just saw your FB page too!

Rhizowen said...

Catofstripes - glad your oca plants have done well. Watch out for seedlings next year.

Robert - it does seem as though the later generations are more floriferous. This is a good thing as it will hopefully allow a day neutral plant to be created.

Mark - very true!

Ottawa Gardener - I think it's progress, but the real issue is to create/ locate a day neutral variety that forms tubers earlier in the year. Seeds are probably the best way to achieve this.

Frank said...

Well, your voles do leave you something, half a tuber is half a tuber. Over here some varieties disappeared completely into their stomachs...Well, I won't complain, plenty of varieties left.
I also have the impression that the new generation of varieties is more floriferous, although they're definitely later to start flowering over here compared to your Cornish garden of Eden. Thanks to a mild autumn I could have some seeds over here, but they're still maturing, let's keep fingers crossed!
Some of the new varieties were quite productive, others weren't (as far as can be judged, due to these overnourished mice), some more selections could create some nice varieties. But I didn't encounter a really early producer.

Mark said...

Thought of something else. Wonder how vole pie tastes?

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