You can store rare edible tubers such as Oca, Yacon, Mashua, Chinese artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, Ulluco, Apios etc in much the same ways as the more well known potato, carrot and other root vegetables. Ideally tubers are kept in an almost dry sterile potting compost, peat or sand to keep the air off preventing mold. Keep in an open tray, pot or bucket in a cold but frost free and well ventilated shed or root cellar. In our experience tubers can be stored in a well drained and thickly mulched garden nearly all winter and harvested as needed.
Most of them quite are similar to the well known potato but often healthier and can be grown with near zero maintenance. We like to get them off to a good start by planting them in 0.5-1L pots in a greenhouse around March or April and plant them out into our mulched gardens as strong seedlings in May when there is no more hard frosts. Please note most of these tubers are hardy enough to take a light frost, but Oca and Yacon is best planted out when the chance of a late frost has passed. 4-6 weeks is plenty to grow tubers into nice strong seedlings before planting them out. We have some videos on planting and harvesting tubers.
Like with all tubers you could plant them out directly, but we always grow all of our plants into strong seedlings in the greenhouse first. This has 2 main advantages: To extend the growing season by starting them early and to help them take off quickly once planted out into the garden for them to grow into healthy plants so that there is a much lower chance of the slugs showing an interest. With lasagne style gardening the roots spread rapidly through the malleable soil and the slugs simply can’t keep up!
All tubers can be grown in a relatively small space and close together, however the more space you can give them the more production you can expect. Ideally full sun is advisable but not necessary to grow tubers. Towards the end of the growing season all of the tuberous plants will flower, but will only go to seed in hotter climates with plenty of sunshine.
Like with all cultivated production plants we would suggest keeping them completely weed and grass free. Mulching the entire growing space in the garden helps to keep weed pressure to near zero so you can enjoy planting and harvesting your crops rather than chasing the weeds all year. We will be showing how to start a low maintenance mulched no dig garden in detail in a short video course that we are working on over the coming weeks.
Tuber ID Chart:
We wish you a successful and abundant growing season,
Martin and Bianca,
Gardens for Life