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Tubers & Cuttings – General Storage and Planting Instructions

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Woody cuttings such as Willows or Currants should not be allowed to dry out during storage and are best stored in a bucket with 10cm of water. This way they will be fine for weeks, even months until you’re ready to plant them. Hardwood cuttings can be planted while trees are dormant in Winter from November until March or April.

Root cuttings such as Mint or Horseradish are best stored in moist potting soil, they are hardy and can be potted in Winter and will start growing once it gets warmer in Spring.

You can store ancient edible tubers such as Oca, Yacon, Mashua, Chinese artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, Ullucus, Tiger nuts, Madeira vine, Apios and many more in much the same ways as the more well known potato, carrot and other root vegetables. Ideally tubers are kept in an almost dry 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.

Tiger nuts are dried for storage, please soak in water for 24 hours before planting. Please note they are frost sensitive, so they are best planted out after chances of a hard frost have passed. You could start them early in trays or pots in a greenhouse from March to May to give them a head start.

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 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.

Tuber ID Chart:

We wish you a successful and abundant growing season,

Martin and Bianca,
Gardens for Life

Resources:

Ancient Edible Tubers INTRO & HARVESTS VIDEO Nov 2019

2 thoughts on “Tubers & Cuttings – General Storage and Planting Instructions

  1. How important is the amount of water in the compost? Didn’t realise the compost I have is quite wet, are the tubers more likely to rot?

    1. Sorry about the late reply. When storing tubers don’t wet the compost, it should be almost dry. When planting either in a pot or into the garden directly then keep them watered, although outdoors you should basically never have to water them because the woodchip mulch will soak up the rain like a sponge and hold the moisture.

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