Saturday, 22 December 2012


Not only damp but murky as the light conditions have been lower even than last winter. This has had at least one beneficial effect as the Oca tubers seem to revel in low light conditions and have given me the best crop per plant yet with some of the largest tubers I have ever grown. The trick with oca is to keep them in the ground even if the tops are cut back by the frost. I still have a number of plants unharvested as underneath the tops tubers are still swelling.I shall keep back about 60 tubers for planting next year the rest will be eaten as per potatoes. Each year I keep more and more back so that I can build up numbers until I am self sufficient in this wonderful plant.

Here is a pink and white type with the tubers still swelling inside their protective cover of home grown(mown with my scythe) hay which I had used to "earth up" the haulm.Photo taken 3rd Nov.

My other tuberous plants have done well also especially the Yacon which really surprised me with the weight of crop per plant which averaged 2 Kg.Yacon root is sweet like a carrot but more juicy so that it is more like a fruit. It stores well and gets sweeter the longer it is kept. The tubers are just a storage facility for the plant the reproductive tubers are tiny by comparison and cluster at the base of the stem. I keep these in my poly tunnel covered with straw and just on the damp side. As soon as they start to sprout in the spring I detach them and pot them up prior to planting out when all danger of frost has passed.

Here's how the tubers form, I think they would have been bigger if we had better weather.

Chestnut processing.
In my last post I showed a pic of the outer case split open revealing 3 good sized nuts inside.I have since cropped the tree and processed and prepared the Seasonal nut roast.The method I used is never explained in the recipes and I imagine that most people wold buy ready prepared nuts from the store. Most recipes tell you to part immerse the nuts in boiling water for about a minute, having first slit the outer skin to allow air to escape during the heating. Then you should be able to remove the outer skin and peel off the inner bitter skin. I tried this but found I the inner skins only peeled off whilst quite hot and  you could only process in small batches as well as scalding fingers so not much fun.Here is my method:

Process within a few days of picking the earlier the better.
First peel the outer skin using a knife to make a slit the rest comes away easily.

The bitter inner skin easily peels away leaving the heart ready for storing until required for cooking.I kept the peeled nuts in a plastic food bag in the fridge until I had enough for my festive roast. They kept really well like this for a couple of weeks, whilst I continued to collect nuts and process daily.There is no doubt that it is an benefit to have the tree just a few meters from the kitchen, but of course that's the idea of a forest garden.

If you would like the Chestnut roast recipe send me a message and I will email it to you.

Until next time when I will be looking at firewood and kindling, have a merry one !!