Unknown root crops from South America

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For the time being, you may see these interesting crops at agricultural fairs or you may have read a footnote or recommendation in health and nutrition magazines, but due to their resilience and easy cultivation we hope that these tuberous plants, such as (Oxalis tuberosa), (Tropaeolum tuberosum) and (Polymnia sonchifolia – know as yakón), will soon be in our gardens and will become as common as potatoes.

After all, potatoes came to us from across the Atlantic, so maybe this process of plant expansion will go on. Let us introduce each species separately.

Oxalis tuberosa

When you look at this interesting plant for the first time you will certainly notice its leaves and not flowers because flowers look rather ordinary. In health stores you may see these tubers marked with the oca sign. Oca starch is used to thicken sauces and its tubers are used for the same dishes as potatoes. They are edible only after cooking.

So what does Oxalis tuberosa need to be a happy plant?

    • an outdoor spot and needs to be in the ground by mid-June
    • rather dry and not too heavy soil
    • plenty of sun
    • organic fertilizer
    • 20×20 cm span
    • harvest after freezing

 

Tropaeolum tuberosa

A lesser-known relative is called Tropaeolum majus . Its edible root tubers are called mashua and resemble a pear shape and are consumed raw or cooked . This plant does not even suffer from diseases and pets do not like it. As a matter of fact it hardly ever gets infected.

So what does mashua need to be a happy plant?

  • an outdoor spot and needs to be in the ground by mid-May
  • fertile and permeable soil
  • plenty of sun
  • organic fertilizer
  • harvest after freezing

Yakón (Polymnia sonchifolia)

This plant is also known as Peruvian ground apple and you may see it in supermarkets from time to time. Its taste resembles radish and it may be eaten raw or cooked. Leaves of this plant are commonly fed to cattle in South America.

What does yakón need to be a happy plant?

    • it needs to be in the ground by mid-June
    • rather lose and nutritious soil
    • plenty of sun
    • organic fertilizer
    • 50×50 cm span
    • harvest after freezing

 

Photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.

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