Friday, 14 September 2012

Ocaupy Everywhere

Here's something I wrote a while back and then failed to publish. Life got in the way, as life so often does. 

The Occupy Movement created a bit of a stir a few months ago, with mass protests and encampments.  Even Plymouth, our nearest city, had a tent hamlet for a while.

Although Radix is firmly apolitical, the ocas in my charge seem to be staging their own takeover.  I have well over 150  genetically distinct varieties now, the majority of which were raised from seed either by me or Frank van Keirsbilck.  Of this total there are  perhaps fifty seedlings sown this year and had circumstances been different, I might have managed to grow many more.

The first of these seedlings are now starting to flower, which will hopefully lead to another abundant seed crop.









A few seedlings have appeared spontaneously again this season and Carl Legge has several dozen, maybe fifty by all accounts, the progeny of a mixed bunch of tubers I supplied to him in 2011.

The relative ease by which this total has been achieved seems to bode well for the future of oca breeding. The next step is to crank up production by an order of magnitude or two and apply a more systematic approach to the selection of better-yielding varieties. Our best hope of discovering a day-neutral plant is by letting this riotous assembly cross with promiscuous abandon; the breeder's job is then to eyeball the progeny and pick out those whose ample charms mean they stand out from the crowd. Think A Chorus Line for ocas and you won't go far wrong.

The more I ponder on all of this, the more this apparently harmless horticultural hobby seems to be expanding to fill all the available space and time. My available space and time, that is.   Maybe I should consider turning oca breeding into a mass movement and enlist help (yours?) to scale up operations.  Let's see whether we can get oca to occupy its rightful place in our gardens and on our tables. Can I rouse a rabble of gardeners to raise new roots?

I'm pleased to say that I am now harvesting seeds from my 2012 seedlings. The cycle continues.















5 comments:

Mark said...

A miraculous achievement. You should get an Oca-Nobel.

Rhizowen said...

Thanks Mark

I'm more concerened about being caught out by another oca-nobbling winter, assuming the voles don't get them first.

If we can produce 10,000 seedlings, I reckon we might get somewhere.

Ian Pearson said...

A couple of seedlings this year, and now collecting seed. Trying to do my bit.

VP said...

I've joined - T&M offered me some freebie tubers last week and it would have been churlish to refuse.

Interesting to see how Oca et al. are becoming more mainstream...

NB Mashua results this season are 'neutral' owing to the wet, cool conditions (i.e. has grown, but only just). Will be overwintering your gift ready to try again next year.

Rhizowen said...

Hi Ian

That's all any of us can do. Hope life in the Isle of Wight suits you.

Hi VP

I'm all for oca going mainstream, but we really do need to breed some better adapted varieties. Interested?

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