Harvesting the oca on Debbie’s Allotment
We planted five oca (New Zealand Yam) tubers this year, our first attempt at growing them. Only four of them survived and only three thrived. They didn’t grow much in spring, but put on a lot of growth in late summer.
The tuber’s don’t seem to grow until late autumn and the longer they stay in the ground the bigger they get, we harvested them just before the first really hard frost, after a few mild frosts had killed the top growth.
The harvest was modest, about three pounds, so it’s definitely not a crop to grow for self sufficiency, but we have the space and the crunchy, fresh tasting tubers liven up a salad. Oca (like rhubarb) contains oxalic acid, which makes it acidic and which, in big quantities, is poisonous. To make oca sweeter and reduce the oxalic acid content, keep the tubers in the light for a week or so. Then store, like potatoes, in paper bags, and enjoy! On the up-side they are however quite nutrition-packed, boasting a wide range of micro and macro nutrients including vitamin C, iron, zinc, flavonoids, B vitamins, and fiber. They are also low in calories, but for me it’s the fresh crunchy texture that makes them worth growing!
Nutrition Source: http://www.healwithfood.org/nutrition-facts/oca-oxalis-tuberosa.php#ixzz50rwS0aXu and
Information on Oca isn’t that easy to find, the best general resource I found is this web site http://oca-testbed.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Oca. Which documents the experience of growing oca over a number of years and is very practical.
In my opinion the tubers are too expensive to buy, given the size of the harvest, but we have enough tubers from this years crop to make it worthwhile to grow them again next year. However we will try planting them late, to follow onions and garlic, because then they will be gone by December freeing up land that can be used for early spring planting. We will also cover them with a double layer of fleece, to minimise frost damage and maximise tuber growth.
This web site is also useful for general growing advice http://ocabreeders.org/oxalis-tuberosa/growing-oca/.
I’m going to store mine in dry compost in 2″ plug trays, when they start to sprout I will start to water. I’m going to try saving both small and medium sized tubers and see how they fare.
If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and one of our daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot. Jennie’s plot for example focuses on potatoes, squash, alliums and brassicas. This video provides an overview https://youtu.be/q1k-2vIoSQ8. I do a monthly tour of each allotment, roughly one a week, you can find the tours here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFhKoRR-NiCJn5Y6rZf0RCCqycu3xvofX.
Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in summer, to give away our huge surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible.
My wife and I spend about 4 hours a day, 4 days a week on the plots (on average) and we keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.
I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease. I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat the most organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them if I flare up again.