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

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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 […]

Potatoes: Growing from Seed (Part 2)

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Well, it took me a while to get back to this topic; that is how it goes in spring.  We’ve been busy planting potatoes instead of writing about it. In the first part of this post, I talked about growing potatoes from true seed and the biological facts of potato sexual reproduction.  In this part, […]

Potatoes: New varieties coming up

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As I have written previously, I have expanded my interest in potato breeding significantly over the past couple of years.  This year, I had the opportunity to buy a number of uncommon varieties, many of which originated in Tom Wagner‘s breeding program, or as seed bank accessions. These were planted more than a month after […]

Nutrition facts for oca, ulluco, and mashua

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) nutrition facts

I’ve had a few customers ask about the nutrition data for oca, which set me on a search.  I was surprised that it is not all that easy to come by, as it seems like a fairly popular crop in New Zealand, but I didn’t turn up much.  The main source that I found was […]

Tree Collards: Starting from cuttings

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Tree collards (Brassica oleracea) are fascinating relatives of kale that are perennial and may grow to be ten feet tall or even taller.  Unfortunately, these varieties apparently do not grow true from seed.  As a result, you must find a source of cuttings if you want to grow tree collards.I’ve been searching for starts for […]

Potatoes: Growing from Seed (Part 1)

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Most people grow potatoes from so called “seed potatoes,” which are simply small potatoes or large potatoes cut into pieces.  This method has advantages and disadvantages.  One advantage is that it is relatively foolproof if you start with healthy potatoes.  Compared to a seed, even a small piece of potato has huge reserves of energy […]

Bitter melon: Tastes better than a punch in the face

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Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is a tropical cucumber relative, originally from India and grown widely in southeast Asia.  As you might expect from the name, it is pretty bitter, although it is generally eaten young before the bitterness reaches its peak. Bitter melons In my experience, there are two categories of people in the world: […]

Maca: The slow-growing, foul-tasting, aphrodisiac, Inca radish?

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Maca roots from Wikimedia Commons Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is hot right now among people who consume so-called “super foods.”  Apparently, most are consuming it as a powder added to their witch’s brews of obscure roots, berries, and twigs from distant lands.  It is a member of the mustard family, sometimes called “Peruvian Ginseng”. For me, maca […]