Oca: Mission accomplished

First oca (Oxalis tuberosa) seeds at Cultivariable

I’m sure you remember George Bush’s speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, backed by a giant banner that declared “Mission Accomplished.”  This demonstrated that any mission can be accomplished, so long as you define the goals narrowly enough and also that even accomplished missions are likely to be part of a much longer campaign. […]

Oca: Of pods and pollinators

Small bee pollinating oca (Oxalis tuberosa)

I suppose there is a risk of boring you all to death with the non-stop oca (Oxalis tuberosa) posts, but most of my garden time right now is focused on trying to get seeds from our oca plants and removing a plague of slugs from our potatoes.  I thought about doing a post on the […]

Potatoes: Potato flowers


One thing that you miss when buying your potatoes at the store is the wonderful display that they put on when they flower.  Flowering is good news for the traditional potato grower, as it signals the beginning of tuberization.  It is also good news for those who want to grow from seed, since the plant […]

Oca: Flowering & crossing update

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) dropped flower

Well, the good news is that our oca (Oxalis tuberosa) is continuing to flower in good numbers, with 20-30 new flowers opening every day across seven varieties.  I have been doing my best bumble bee imitation, transferring pollen from one end of the garden to the other in the hope of producing oca seeds.  Unfortunately, […]

Oca: Cross pollination chart

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) cross compatibility chart

Here is an early effort at a crossing chart for varieties of oca (Oxalis tuberosa) available in the US.  It still needs a few varieties to be filled in, but it doesn’t seem likely that I’m going to get them to flower this year.  I’ll eventually update the chart when I learn the flower types […]

Oca: Short-styled flower up close

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) short-styled flower

I’ve noticed that pollen doesn’t seem to mature at the same time for the different tiers of anthers in oca (Oxalis tuberosa) flowers.  Sometimes the longer stamens seem to have loose pollen, while the shorter stamens don’t.  I spent some time looking at oca flowers under the microscope to see if I could find a […]

Oca: Flowering good fortune

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) 'OE Orange' flowering

Flowering OE Orange oca plant in an embarrassingly weedy patch This has been a particularly exciting week for my little oca (Oxalis tuberosa) experiment, which is nice because I am working on a project that is burning out my brain.  Almost every time I head outside for a quick break, I am greeted with some new […]

Oca: Hopin for flowers

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) variety 'Hopin' flowering

First flower on a Hopin oca plant Yesterday, I wrote of my surprise at finding June flower buds on some of our oca (Oxalis tuberosa) plants.  Today’s events were not quite as surprising, but still unexpected.  We have our first oca flower.  It opened on a plant of the Hopin variety sometime between 10AM and […]

Oca: A budding interest soon to bear fruit?

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) with 5 leaflets

Five-leafed oca While performing my morning walk through the oca (Oxalis tuberosa) and potato rows, vigilant for signs of pests and disease while blinking the sleep from my eyes, I spotted an unusual oca leaf that tuned my senses.  Is a five-leafed oca as lucky as a four-leafed clover?  While I haven’t studied the matter […]

Maca: Puny Plant from the Puna


As I have written previously, last year’s maca (Lepidium meyenii) was a disappointment, but this year is turning out better, at least so far.  I credit that largely to discarding much of what I know about maca. Maca plant with bonus weeds In its normal habitat, high in the Andes, maca stands largely alone.  It […]