Growing oca or New Zealand yam

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!

Sandra kneeling by the oca bed holding a bunch of freshly harvested oca

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.

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Our 10 allotment growing New Year resolutions

Or what we learned in our first year on the plot.

In no particular order:

1. Don’t over plant

July sown Beets

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.

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A wee visit to the plot

Since our last blog, we have both been fighting one of those stinky autumn colds, and unable to work on our plot. So last weekend, although it was very cold, the weather was dry enough for a wee visit to the plot. We fully expected to find everything overgrown and in a bad state.

Apart from our poor leek patch, that has been adopted by our local fox as a daytime lounge area,

Our leek patch - flattened and chewed

Poor leeks all flattened and chewed

everything else was much better than expected. Continue reading

We have a shed!

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

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!
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We’re back!

We didn’t intend to take August off. It just sort of happened.

Andrew and Sandra posing on the plot

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

Recipe: beetroot leaves and spaghetti 

Title graphic: beetroot leaves and spaghetti
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!
Red, orange, pink and white beetroot.
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Controlling slugs and snails

A patty pan seedling with its stem eaten through

A patty pan seedling with its stem eaten through

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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 had the leaves and stems stripped

Our beans were stripped overnight

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