We’re just past the longest day and still no real summer to speak of. It’s still very dry though, despite last night’s downpour. I’ve just planted out some leeks and the remaining oca (see photo) from their pots.
The oca, which is also known as New Zealand yam, is the one with the trefoil leaf. It belongs to the oxalis family, like wood sorrel. In fact the leaves taste a bit like wood sorrel.
I first came across it last year when Garden Organic asked members to do some trials to see how well it grew in this country. The plants I have this year are from tubers I saved from last year’s crop. I was quite impressed, mainly by the fact that it survived and didn’t seem too bothered by dry conditions or by our pests.
The crop was modest but interesting. It isn’t harvested till November, before the frosts begin preferably, as it is the tubers which are the main crop. The leaves are edible when young but a bit hairy! The tubers look a bit like small red Jerusalem artichokes. Best scrubbed, sliced and thrown in a curry or stir fry at the last minute. That way they taste like water chestnuts. Boiled or roasted they go a bit floury. You can’t usually find them in the shops which makes them worth growing.
The second photo is of two cucumber plants which I am growing as an experiment to see if Grochar (organic biochar fertiliser) makes any appreciable difference. Both plants have had an identical life, grown in New Horizon, peat-free compost, but in one I have added Grochar at every re-potting. There were 4 plants in the experiment, 2 in each, and the other two are faring the same way. So which one has the Grochar added?
If you’d like some free Grochar to do your own tests, get in touch or leave a comment below.
Other news in the veg plot is not so interesting. The most impressive are the 2 pumpkins given by a fellow GIYer, which I planted in the resting compost heap. My garlic and onions are rubbish, it’s just too dry I think. The tomatoes are coming on fine, in pots on the patio and in the greenhouse. Don’t forget to remove the side shoots on yours, if they are cordons (i.e. not bush type).
A last note on feeding: if you want leafy growth, feed with home made nettle feed or seaweed extract. If you want flowers and fruit use comfrey feed or buy a phostrogen product. For tomatoes, wait till you have at least two trusses which have set before you feed with phostrogen, then feed weekly.