Ahipa: Getting to the root of beans

Ahipa (Pachyrhizus ahipa) 'Tarija' seeds

Ahipa (Pachyrhizus ahipa) is one of a few varieties of bean that have been bred for their roots, rather than for their seeds (the beans).  It produces a storage root that tops out at about 2 pounds in its native region in Bolivia.  The root is used similarly to yacon: more like a fruit than […]

Ulluco: 2015 Mini tuber harvest

Eight ulluco varieties grown from seedlings. The tubers are small. Colors are purple, light green, yellow, orange and purple, dark purple, and lime green

We had 27 ulluco seeds germinate in 2015, but they did so over a very long period of time and more than half of them popped up in September, by which time it was growing late to produce tubers.  In addition to short day length, ulluco needs a few months of growth before it is […]

New Variety Introductions for 2016

I’ve announced a lot of achievements that I was proud of in this blog, but this might be my favorite. These are the new varieties that we have produced in the past couple of years, all of which have been released under the terms of the Open Source Seed Initiative pledge. That picture represents thousands […]

Ulluco: 2015 Seed Production

Ulluco seed production in 2015 The ulluco seed season has come to a close for 2015.  Not long after the autumn equinox, when ulluco begins to form tubers, it stops producing seeds.  Some varieties continue to flower, but the flowers no longer form seeds, even with hand pollination. 2015 is our third year producing seeds […]

Yacon: Leaf Shape

One of the problems that we have in maintaining and expanding our little yacon collection is that it can be very difficult to distinguish different yacon varieties.  Plants look very similar in the field and the rhizomes and storage roots also don’t vary all that much from variety to variety.  A few conveniently have red/purple […]

Ulluco: Seedling Blast

The last ten days have been a remarkable run for our ulluco project.  Seven new seedlings have emerged in that time, bringing the total for the year to 17, a 1.62% germination rate.  So far, 14 seedlings remain alive and 6 of those are well-developed, adult plants that will almost certainly set a tuber crop […]

Yacon: Happy in the Heat

This has been a tough year for Andean crops on the Washington coast.  The weather has been significantly drier and warmer than any time in the ten years that we’ve lived here.  In most years, we look for temperatures to reach into the 70s (Fahrenheit) about twice.  This year, we’ve had almost thirty days with […]

Ulluco: Generation 2 in the Works

Ulluco is a plant with a demographic challenge.  As far as we know, all of the existing ulluco varieties are old.  I haven’t seen any studies that attempt to determine the age of the major cultivars, but it isn’t unreasonable to think that they could be hundreds of generations old.  It probably isn’t even unthinkable […]

Ulluco: Seedling Updates

This continues to be an exciting year on the ulluco front.  We have had a total of 8 seeds germinate, one as recently as last week.  The first four plants survived the fragile stage and are now vigorous and healthy, having reached perhaps half of their ultimate size (assuming that they do not grow larger […]

Yacon: Leaves of Three, Let Them Be

Nature is a good teacher.  One of the most valuable lessons that it teaches is the degree to which we take our powers of observation for granted.  In reality, observation is not a passive activity.  When we observe passively, the brain takes shortcuts.  That is the only explanation I have for the fact that I […]