Sharing ideas, trials and experiments
Growing Exotics
Following James Wongs 'Homegrown Revolution' publication and Garden Organics 'Saving New Seed' project I was inspired to experiment by growing a number of non traditional vegetables. Most were grown from seed (available from Suttons) and the origin was mainly Central/South America.
Here are the results.

Cucamelon
Cucamelon
About the size of a large grape and the taste described as cucumber with a hint of lime, they grew well this year both inside the tunnel and outside climbing up nettling. More than sufficient quantities for salads but do not pickle successfully. Would grow again.







Achocha

Achocha

Plant and fruit very prolific, so much so the weight collapsed the frame. Fruit about the size of large gurkin but needs picking when very small as hard, flat black seeds form inside. Little taste when raw. Won't be growing again.



Inca berries
Another fruit inside a paper lantern but this time sweet.  Sadly despite having lots of lanterns I only got chance to taste three, the rest failing to develop. James Wong indicates they do need watering which they did not get during this dry summer






Tomatillos
Tomatillos
An overwhelming producer of green tomato sized fruit inside a paper lantern.  Used in Mexico to make a green salsa which is less sweet than the tomato variety.  Interestingly little fruit formed in the poly-tunnel despite being warmer and being given more water and feed. The bountiful supply meant we were able to make lots of delicious chutney.  I will grow again.






Dahlia yams Dahlia yams

Grown from seed to produce a profusion of Dahlia multicoloured flowers over the summer and after the frost has taken the tops, dug up to give a giant hand of tubers; quite a heavy crop from one small seed. Eaten raw they have the taste and texture of potato.




Yakon tubersYakons
Grown from a tuber in a pot in the greenhouse and transplanted into open ground after frosts have finished the yakon plants formed 3ft green leafy bushes. The large tubers were dug up after the first frost. Strir fried they had a crispy texture not unlike water chestnuts. Definitely grow again.

Oca tubers
Oca tubersForming billowing 1ft mounds of weed suppressing shamrock-leaved plant harvesting was carried out after the first frost . The many cone shaped tubers were small but this could be due to the dry summer. I will try again.



Your choice of potato varieties does make a difference

potatoes

What a difference the weather made to the yield of potatoes this year (2013). Compared to last year the  yield was in most cases doubled. The dry weather also resulted in less tubers being attacked by slugs.  Compare the results for 2013 to last year after planting a number of different varieties.   The figures  below result from the planting of nine tubers per variety.The yields are taken after the slug damaged  and tiny tubers were removed. Percentage yield is a fraction of good tubers out of total yield.
                                                                        2012                                 2013
Type        Decription                        Yield (Kg)  % yield     
Yield (Kg)  % yield      
Orla              2nd. White                      6.2              69                 -                    -                                                                                                 
Kestral    
    2nd. Purple eyes,            6.8              94                 16                95       

K.Edward     Main. Red eyes               7.0              78                 12                93       

Cara             Main. Red eyes               3.6              72                  20               96        

Rooster         Main. Red                       7.7              81                  16               96      

Novella          Main. White                    4.8              56                    -                  -  

Salad blue    Main. Blue                        -                  -                    9                96

Cosmos        2nd   White                       -                  -                   13              81

Charlotte       2nd   White                       -                 -                    15             96

Pink Fir Ap    Main  White                        -                 -                  20            93       


Comment

It is interesting to note that for many varieties the percentage yield is almost identical indicating the proportion of tiny tubers is similar.  The low percentage yield of Cosmos was due to heavy attack by slugs. Cara and Pink Fir Apple top the variety for the largest usable yield this year by about 25%. Cosmos and Cara both produced very large tubers.  A disappointing outcome for King Edward with low yield and small tubers.
Paul


 Please share your own trials and experiments.

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