Sunday, February 28, 2010

second season

Achira (Canna edulis) heat and daylength sensitive.

Aphia (Pachyrhizus aphia) cold and daylength sensitive.

Arracacha (Arracacha xanthorrhiza) cold and daylength sensitive.

Maca (Lepidum meyenii) complex germinating and planting process.

Mashua (Tropaeolium tuberosum) heat and daylength sensitive.

Mauka (Mirabilis expansa) heat and daylength sensetive.

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) extremely daylength sensitive.

Ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) heat and datlength sensitive

Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia) a posibillity.

i've been ruminating on the garden's second season...wherever that season occurs...and so i've spent some more money on books (tough decision) and i have been perusing them in search of plants to expand with...i am drawn to tubers ( partly because i like to eat them) and was thinking, since we are growing potatoes in the first season would there be another andean root crop we could plant..Lost Crops of the Incas has provided something of an answer...the daylength requirements of most of the plants run from 12 to 13.5 hours a day...beyond that the become unhappy and don't form tubers...that let's most out for indiana...heat is another issue for some...these plants grow from sea level to an elevation of 4000 meters so those grown at altitude don't like temperatures over 20 degrees celsius...more limitations...Maca has an interesting germinating and planting process..."Maca husbandry is difficult, and the cropping system used to grow it is complex. To obtain seed, the strongest plants are left in the ground at harvest time. About a month later, when hard freezes have killed the tops of the plants, they are transplanted (with all their secondary roots) to special plots in unused sheep corrals or manure piles. There they are covered with soil and heavily manured. Within a few weeks, new shoots appear. In a month or two numerous flowers rise, and 3-4 months later, seed is set. The seeds are allowed to mature and fall to the ground. The mixture of seeds, plant debris, and loose soil is use to replant the crop." (Lost Crops of the Incas pp.60-61) i don't think we'll be doing least not until i'm retired and can herd sheep...that leaves's a distant relative of the sunflower and we already have a sunflower relative in the form of Jerusalem Artichokes that produce tubers growing in the garden ( the bulbs have been in the ground since last october) Yacon is daylength neutral and has been grown in the united states...the nutrirional value is low...grown more for flavor than anything else...but this is an experimental garden so i am inclined to look for germplast...just to see what happens.

it's 7:52 p.m. and i've been plowing through some of the 10038 accessions for traditional cultivars in the international potato center's
germplast ordering system and haven't found any yacon yet...achira, ahipa, ulluco...but no yacon...if these folks don't have any i am at a loss to know where to go next...usda? they came through on teosinte...stay tuned.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


i was on campus last night for an environmental action committee meeting and i took a stroll past the garden before i left and it startled me. we had some significant snow last week and i expected the garden to be covered just like it was last time, but it wasn't. the black landscaping fabric i used to secure the straw mulch was visible as could be , even in the dark. i was concerned that on sunny days it might generate enough warmth underneath that mulch to fool the yams into coming out of dormancy. they are the only plants with any portion above ground in there right now. so when i got home i fired off an email to joe hollis at
to get some difinitive information from someone who knows more than i do about chinese yams. i haven't heard from him yet, but will i am sure. anyway...i went back this morning to have a daylight look and i'm not sure but that i overeacted a touch. the last snow we had came out of the north and was followed by a period of strong north winds. the garden is on the south side of hawthorn hall and you can see in the picture a wide swath of bare ground that lies west of the garden. snow might have blown off the fabric, not melted. either way i will follow any advice joe delivers just to be on the safe side. stay tuned.'s 10:05 in the morning and i just opened an email from joe hollis who tells me not to worry. chinese yams emerge from dormancy late and are cold hardy. he tells me he doesn't even remember any of his being damaged by a late frost. so wind or melt-off the uncovered fabric is a non-issue.