You may recall that last spring I announced I was trying some fun, new-to-me things in the garden this year. One of those exotic vegetables was Oxalis tuberosa, a.k.a. oca. Well, after a slow start, coddling it through the summer and protecting it from the cold it finally died back on top and I was ready to dig.
Pulling back the row cover this is the scene I found.
It’s a little hard to tell from this bad picture in bad lighting, but the voles appear to have taken advantage of the protection of the row cover I put over the plants. They had tunneled all over around and probably through the roots and chewed off most of the stems. The little pests have been just terrible this season and I often see them rocketing out of our plot into one of the neglected neighboring plots where they have plenty of cover. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to harvest the oca crop this year.
Yup, that’s it. A single, centimeter long tuber and it’s damaged to boot. I don’t think the voles ate them all. It actually looks like they just didn’t form. On one of the plants I pulled out there were places along one of the stems that had rested against the ground where roots had gone down and tiny tubers were just starting. I’m guessing the reason oca isn’t grown around here is the shortness of the season. As much as I like to experiment I’ll take this as a reminder not to push the limits too much and to do a lot of research before diving into something new.
That’s two successful new crops—the peanuts and Malabar spinach—against one clear failure. So I’m ahead, right? I’m still open to trying new things so if you have any fun suggestions, I would like to hear them.