Nov 202008
 

Okay, so I had y’all on tenterhooks, didn’t I, when I asked you the identity of the mystery vegetable a few posts back.

Thanks to everyone for your guesses, Bethany came the closest when she guessed it was mashua, as both the mystery veg and mashua are root vegetables from the Andes, and have a very similar appearance.

Mystery veg

The mystery vegetable is actually oca, here is the Wiki entry on it, though I have to say the Wiki picture does not look like my oca… on the other hand, the picture on the mashua page of mashua and oca, THAT looks like my oca (except for the colour).

It is a really great crop to grow, very easy and virtually pest-free. (A couple plants did get an early infestation of blackfly, which was quickly sorted with an organic pest spray.) The tubers form AFTER frost has killed off the top growth, which is usually at the beginning of November in this part of the UK (though we had an early frost this year). They keep for months if kept in a cold, dark place, and they’re easy to grow from the previous year’s tubers (this is our second year growing oca).

Oca plant

So far we’ve dug 1/3 of the bed, total useable weight was around  2.3kg (5 pounds), so hopefully we should get about 7kg (15 pounds) from the 1.2m x 1.8m (4ft x 6ft) raised bed.

Oca can be eaten raw or cooked. The tubers are crunchy and tangy (kinda lemony) when raw, but lose this sharpness when cooked. They’re really good roasted too. In New Zealand, oca are called yams, and are a common crop (or so I’ve read). I found this page on different ways to prepare oca, and will definitely try some of them out.

Now for the second mystery veg, which we also grew this year:

mystery veg 2

Have fun guessing 🙂

  7 Responses to “The mystery veg revealed (& mystery veg #2!)”

  1. argh! I did see oca online when I was looking for your veg, but it didn’t look like it. oh well, what can one expect from internet searches. sometimes you win 🙂

    Don’t let me scare you off gogi berries, some people love them. I’d just buy the smallest amount you can.

    The new mystery veg looks like some sort of cucumer. The closest I could find online was a Maxixe, but I don’t think that’s it: http://www.worldcrops.org/crops/Maxixe.cfm

  2. It is part of the cucurbit family, but it’s not maxixe (which I’ve never heard of until now!)

    Cool website.

  3. How cool is that Oca!!
    I’ve never seen or heard of that before – where d’ya get the Seeds from? I’m loving the sound of it.
    And I’m guessing that’s a Loofah. Though Bethany’s guess was good but the Leaves are all wrong.

  4. Oca is grown from tubers, like potatoes. I’ll let ya know where I got them from after I reveal the identity of the second mystery veg (don’t want to make it too easy 😉 )

    It isn’t loofah, though I wanna grow those too!

  5. I’m surprised by your photo showing Oca growing upright with canes as support. I have not seen it grown like this before. Does it maintain this habit up to harvest time? I’m particularly interested because I’ve been thinking about how to maximise the number of large tubers, and thought one way would be to prevent the normal stem-rooting which takes place where stems touch the soil – thus forcing the plant to store all its reserves in the primary root-associated tubers. Have a look here http://oca-testbed.blogspot.com/2009/12/tubers-big-and-few-or-small-and-many.html

  6. Hi Ian — I think we decided to stake them because of the close spacing in our raised bed — we planted the tubers at 12″ spacing. I actually didn’t even realise that the plant will stem-root, but in any case, there wouldn’t have been room to let them stem-root at the spacing we planted them at. The plants tend to want to fall over, the bigger and longer they get. This year, we put some trellis around the outside of the bed to try and keep them more-or-less upright (didn’t really work any better than the stakes).

    One thing you may find interesting with regards to large tubers. This year, we planted tubers that we had saved from last year’s harvest. A few of the tubers were quite large and flat shaped, and we decided to plant those instead of eating them. When they sent up stems, instead of being round, the stems were wide and flat like the tubers. We are hoping that the wide, flat tubers we planted will yield wide, flat tubers at harvest time. If so, we will plant these next year, as they are quite a bit bigger than a standard tuber.

    I will make note of the yield this year, i.e. weight per plant, and post on my blog.

  7. Hmmm, I’ve just been reading about flat oca stems here:
    http://radix4roots.blogspot.com/2009/12/ocasional-update-4-cabin-fever-cure.html

    I’m looking forward to hear how they crop. I’ll be posting results of my harvest within a couple of weeks, as I’m just starting to lift them now.

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