January Time is Tigridia Time

Despite the best efforts of bleak midwinter to dampen our spirits with repeat cycles of wet, cold and wind, there's no denying that spring will surely arrive in due course. Various phenological cues lead me to believe this - I was quite surprised to see frog spawn in the pond last week. An even more reliable indicator is the appearance of bargain packs of Tigridia bulbs in the supermarkets. A tour of the Windy City last week (I mean Plymouth, not Chicago) revealed several cacomitl suppliers with an abundance of bulbs on their shelves; fool that I am, I succumbed. I notice that some quite serious price inflation has occurred: last year 20 bulbs cost £1.98, whereas 2013 prices have reached the dizzying heights of £2. All the more reason to grow your own.

This reminded me that I hadn't even sampled the 2012 crop yet, so I was spurred on to dig up a few bulbs at the weekend and bake them - very nice they were too. As even the most hardened cacomitl lover will admit, however, yields are not good. As I tucked into my plateful, I resolved to try and increase the future cacomitl harvest by encouraging the production of bigger bulbs. I have collected a reasonable quantity of seed as shown above and if I sow it, I can then select for the biggest, fattest bulbs and maybe over time produce an elite strain of giant cacomitl. I'm thinking of something with the size and replication capacity of a decent shallot for starters. As seed production and vegetative ability are often inversely proportional*, another approach would be to prevent the plants setting seed, which might direct all energies towards increasing the size of the bulbs, a bit like the reproductive pruning carried out by ahipa growers. The most effective way to do this would be to chop off the flower stalks as they emerge, but there is something so preposterously defiant and beautiful about the flowers, that I will delay decapitation until they've faded.  I may have once claimed that the heart doesn't crave flowers when the belly lacks bulbs, but I seem to be mellowing in my dotage.

*Try telling that to the creeping buttercups.