To the fans of Kathleen Ferrier, the Lancashire lass with the moving contralto voice and sadly curtailed life, my apologies - follow this link for starters.
No, I'm actually referring to the mild airflow that has been caressing these shores of late. In truth, it's more of a south westerly blowing up from the Caribbean, courtesy of the Gulf Stream. After a nip of frost a couple of weeks ago, which left the yacon tops scorched and made me cover the ocas up with fleece, it's been remarkably balmy of late. So, a bit like "Klever Kaff" Ferrier, who hoped that a southerly wind would bring her sailor lover back home, I too am keen to see the winds bring us that blessed grey, drizzly, gusty weather for a little longer. I want to get more oca pods ripe and maybe obtain my first ever outdoor crop of mashua seeds.
You could say it's unseasonably warm, but glancing through the pages of "The Wrong Kind of Snow" will surely convince you to expect the unexpected. Due to a peculiar accident of geography we're jammed below four competing air masses that slug it out in a non-stop free-for-all-fight: there's a helluva heavenly struggle going on up there. Britain is the world capital of weather and here in Cornwall, we're pretty much in the downtown district. Still, at the moment the gods are smiling: the wind and rain comes blasting through, followed by brief intermezzos of sunshine and the oca pods live on to swell for a few extra days. Mustn't grumble.
I've managed to obtain a few seeds from Frank van Keirsbilck's very own Belgian-bred oca, Pink Dragon. So we're now looking at a potential second generation of European varieties, assuming the seeds germinate. I am intending to repatriate them when the harvest is all in so that Frank can repeat his success with Pink Dragon's offspring.
Frank had previously mentioned that Pink Dragon was particularly floriferous. The picture below, which I took recently, seems to support his assertion:
I've plucked a few pods from various oca plants and brought them indoors in the hope that they'll ripen faster. It's mild out there, yes, but not exactly warm. Plus I don't want the pods to be rattled loose or blown open by the next storm that heads this way. I've put them in a small 'vase", with water and I'm hoping they'll ripen.
So I now have a little autumn pod arrangement gracing the table. I picked pods which looked reasonably mature. Due to their penchant for casting themselves into the void at inopportune moments, I've got them safely imprisoned behind bars, or rather glass:
Ocabana isn't a patch on ikebana in terms of composition and I'm not expecting any prizes in any flower shows, but this arrangement has allowed me to study the pods a little more closely at my leisure. I had already noticed that a couple of pods on RX0901 and RX0924 had reared their heads in the last few days before releasing their volleys of seeds. That was outdoors and I caught them in the nick of time. It now seems that this same "if you've got it, flaunt it" tendency may be occurring in other individuals. Since their incarceration, several of the trapped pods have pointed skywards and then hurled their seeds in vain against the glass. Gotcha. You may be able to make out one or two seeds in the above picture. At least you can see some pods beginning to lift their necks, just like an alpaca does before spitting.
If I can find a white sheet and sufficient floor space, I think I'll try a little experiment to see how far the seeds are actually thrown. I suppose I ought to add non-shattering to the list of desirable characteristics to select for. Let's get the harvest home first.