Radix at Three - a retrospective

Looking at the calendar, I realise that Radix: The Blog has been going for an astonishing three years.  For those of you who have slogged through my prose, I expect it feels longer.

Due to work commitments over the next few months, it will be hard for me to post as often as I'd like, so I'm taking this opportunity to look back (not necessarily in anger) at the highs and lows of root crop exploration. And eat that cupcake.


  • Producing some decent crops of oca seeds which I have been able to distribute to others.
  • Getting said seeds to germinate, grow and produce an interesting range of new oca varieties.  I'm still waiting for that elusive day neutral one, but it can only be a matter of time.....

  • Setting up the Radix Root Crops Facebook page - I've learnt a lot from this kindly bunch of alternative root crop obsessives.

  • Obtaining seeds from the most northerly growing diploid hopniss plants in the USA (read: the world) - which may or may not yield something better than the average hopniss; time will tell.

  • Growing sweetpotatoes from seeds produced in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.  OK, yields weren't great, but they grew.  


Losing virtually all my ocas - twice, thanks to illness and unusually cold weather. And my yacons and virtually any other frost tender roots.  Nearly dying myself didn't help much to improve my mood either.  Unlike George Michael, I wasn't required to give an emotionally charged statement to the thronging press as I left hospital.  I was quietly whisked back to Cornwall in a VW Polo.

The crushing disappointment of the underwhelming performance of yampah - previously considered contender for the carrot's crown. No longer.

Mashua - it grows well and yields abundantly here - I just can't overcome my aversion to the taste of it. Damn.

Ulluco - oh so pretty but - oh no - so temperamental.

So, I wonder what the next three years will bring?  One thing's for certain: the world of the unabashed rhizophile will continue to throw up challenges and delights, success and failure.


Happy Birthday Rhizowen, may your oca multiply and may there always be a chocolate cake on the table :) I've enjoyed reading your blog, though I am a newcomer this year. One day I will be brave and sample my oxalis tubers - the things you learn on the internet :)
Norris said…
Hey Rhizowen,

Congrats on three years of documenting your fun! How'd the skirret and mashua grow that I sent you last spring? Have you sampled the mashua? Any difference in taste with the other varieties you've grown?

Rhizowen said…
Joanna - and what about your oca - is that multiplying?

I can help, you know :)

Norris - Good to hear from you. How's the house sale going? The mashua has done extremely well, so many thanks for that. The skirret was a bit of a disaster - it grew well and then all of it succumbed to verticillium wilt, ironically I think due to the drought we experienced. Luckily I still have some of your seeds left and have sowed them. In this game failure is not an option, it's a prerequisite of success.
Mark said…
Congratulations on your longevity. There must be something that can be done to Mashua to make it edibleA Ask Heston Blumenthal or Michel Roux! Pose it as a challenge for expanding the world's food repetoire.
The concept of drought is fascinating, having seen basically continuous rain since I arrived in Scotland, I am beginning to yearn for deserts, again. But it is good for many tubers, so we can still be happyish.
Patrick said…
Hi Owen,

Congratulations on your blog-birthday!

Thanks for sharing all your trials and tribulations with us all. I'm looking forward to the next three years, and more...
Ian Pearson said…
And many o' them!
Surely another high is to pioneer the concept of 'crowdsource plant breeding'. Plant breeder's rights on that one? erm...
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