Saturday, February 27, 2016

Time to plant Oca/New Zealand Yam cuttings

I've written before about how you can save space and time with Oca by taking cuttings from mother or stock plants in mid to late summer into early autumn and plonking these into spare space that becomes available as another crop finishes. All the reasons for doing this are here:

It's all about being realistic about the fact the Oca will not start forming tubers until after the autumn equinox (March 20 this year in Melbourne). We have very mild autumns here, perfect for Oca, and as they strike so easily from cuttings, there's no need to devote vast amounts of space to Oca plants  in spring when nothing is really going to start happening until around late March.

Today, February 28, I put this theory into practice as I now do every year. I pulled out some mostly dead heirloom tomatoes (with poor resistance to wilt!) and replaced them with Oca cuttings from a spot I had planted with Oca in September. The photos below more or less show the whole process: from the bed with the dead tomato plants, the tree kale bed with the Oca mother plants, the cuttings ready for planting and the cuttings pushed a few inches into the ground and mulched. I didn't add any fertiliser given the amount preparation that went into the tomato bed in spring. I'll post about the progress of this bed a couple of times up to harvest in say late May or June. It's a great trick and makes Oca one of the most convenient, easily grown crops in our warm temperate climate.

Tomatoes - embarrassingly dead and diseased, time to go!

Tomatoes cleared

Oca stock or mother plants growing under a Tree Kale

Mother plants cut back and stems removed as cuttings

Oca cuttings ready to be planted in old tomato bed

Cuttings planted and mulched February 28 - they should be ready to harvest from mid-May into winter

5 weeks since the cuttings went in - growth to April 2

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