If you’re growing vegetables and you haven’t tried oca (also known as New Zealand yams), you’re missing out. They’re easy to grow, easy to cook and super tasty!
When we took on the Quest For Veg plot, one of our goals was to grow unusual produce. So when we spotted oca in the Thompson and Morgan catalogue last year, we didn’t hesitate – even though we knew nothing about how to grow them, how to cook them or what they would taste like.
Or what we learned in our first year on the plot.
In no particular order:
1. Don’t over plant
Beets packed in with not much space to get in to harvest and weed
In a flower garden over-planting may help, on some occasions, to give you a better display. But vegetable plants need their space.
The Quest for Veg plot is not quite a half size plot. So, conscious of our limited space, we were tempted to try to squeeze things in. But our aubergines were swamped by the courgettes and potatoes we planted too close to them, and they produced hardly any fruit. Similarly, the radishes we were growing in our raised bed were overtaken by a pumpkin and either bolted or failed to grow.
It has taken us longer to get to this stage than we thought when we first took on the plot. But we are now the proud owners of a customised Topwood Robin shed.
Our new shed
We need to give a big shout out to Sandra’s mum, for a generous birthday present donation to the Quest for Veg project. And to our good friends Richard Anderson and Keith Boxall who immediately and enthusiastically volunteered to help build it. One’s a landscaper and the other’s an engineer, so it’s probably one of the best put together sheds going!
We didn’t intend to take August off. It just sort of happened.
One of the things we do when we’re not on the plot is kite flying. We design, build and make kites. At the beginning of August we had three kite festivals in a row. I had thought we might be able to keep up with our plot and the blog in between but there was just too much to do. Continue reading
Almost without trying, we grew some beetroot. We bought a packet of Unwins Gourmet Mix from the garden centre, sprinkled them into the soil and, apart from a bit of watering, pretty much left them to it.
And look what they produced: stunning colourful orbs that tasted as good as they looked.
Their characteristic earthy flavour had a delicious sweetness. We immediately grated one of the white ones raw into a salad. Wonderful!
As well as planting potatoes directly into the soil, we grew some in potato bags that Andrew made. We wanted to compare the yields from direct- and bag-planted spuds.
Here’s how we got on:
This page may contain affiliate links – thank you for your support of our Quest for Veg!
A patty pan seedling with its stem eaten through
We’ve mentioned previously that we have a big problem with slugs and snails on the Quest for Veg allotment plot.
A few weeks ago we planted out the climbing beans we had been nurturing in the greenhouse only to return to the plot and find that the whole lot had been devastated overnight. Their leaves had gone and the stems had been stripped.
Our beans were stripped overnight
How do you know when its time to harvest potatoes? The general rule of thumb for first early potatoes seems to be that you start digging once the plants have flowered.
Well the first potatoes we put in – Red Duke of York – flowered some time ago. Could it be that they are ready to harvest?
We were intrigued when we spotted a packet of cucamelon seeds in the garden centre. But I have to admit that it was the invitation to “explore their cocktail-enhancing prowess” that really piqued our interest.
It’s hard to believe this is month six on the Quest for Veg plot. We’ve come a long way from the overgrown and neglected site we took on at the beginning of the year.