Cultivation FAQs

Do you ever treat them with anything in case of lingering mould organisms or will they just outgrow any such problem in the right conditions?

Generally not. If the tuber goes mushy or rotten it’s possible to detach any sprouts (if present) and root them independently. They do much better removed and with the right conditions they grow away well.

Can you clarify how we should be storing our tubers? Mine are sitting around in my kitchen at the moment…

Thumb sized tubers and larger for eating will store quite well in potato sacks or other paper bags. Like potatoes they need to be kept cool and not too dry – room temperature is far too warm for long term storage. Smaller tubers will shrivel quite quickly at room temperatures.

Wash tubers for storing for the next year’s crop and dry them off with a cloth. Store them in a sealed container – e.g. margarine tub or Ziploc bag. You can use vermiculite to pack them in, it should be just slightly damp with no visible water. Store the packs in the cool or the salad drawer of the fridge, even very small tubers will survive this way.

One of my tubers/plants is strangely deformed. (Fasciated). Is that bad?

Just something that happens from time to time; the cause isn’t entirely clear and it isn’t always carried into the next generation of tubers.

When do we harvest the tubers?

A properly adapted oca would die back after tuberising, just as potatoes do. We’re not there yet, so have to make do with the next best option: harvest the tubers after the plants have been frosted off. If there are no frosts until late, so much the better – the plant will continue to shunt sugars from leaves and stems down to the tubers, swelling them. Leave them a week or two after a killing frost before lifting as this process continues for a while after the tops have been zapped. Watch out for rodents and take action. They can and will destroy entire crops.

Does anyone have any advice on extracting oca seeds from gooey pods? I wanted to make sure oca seeds can get soggy and still be viable.

Mix the gooey mess with water and rub it so the seeds are released. If you swirl and decant judiciously, you can get rid of the pulp while retaining the seeds at the bottom of the bowl or other vessel. Pour the cleaned seeds into a very fine mesh sieve or tea strainer to drain then spread them in a single layer on a plate somewhere with gentle heat from below, like a radiator. As they dry you can break up any clumps and within a few hours they’re dry enough for storage

A reminder please about how to judge the right time to pick the pods?

Look for bulges inside the pods, a change of colour from green to something a bit yellower (in the case of green pods, that is) and the pods starting to point their noses upwards.