Monday, 27 June 2011

Main Oca Bed 2011 — If It Ain't Broke...

Last year's growing arrangement of Oca with cordon tomatoes was hard to fault, so I've just tweaked it slightly to optimise spacing and make it easier to manage this time round. Oh, and it's beetroot instead of lettuce for the quick-growing edge crop.

Here is Oca 'Dark pink', not yet at the sprawling stage, growing strongly between tomato 'OSU Blue', despite being subject to a medley of drought, high wind, downpours and hailstorms since planting out.
Observant readers might notice that there is incomplete fruit set on the tomato. I'm pretty sure this is due to the very dry conditions earlier in the season rather than any affect from the oca foliage covering the lower trusses.

The bed's timetable in detail:-

13th April. Cleared the preceding green manure crop (grazing rye). Tops hoed off with an azada, and removed, roots left in situ. Not dug.

14th April. Beetroot (plugs, sown 15th March) were planted out.
The tiny plants are just visible in rows 9" from the bed edge (centre foreground bed)...
I could have planted out the Oca at the same time, but last year they got a bit of frost damage around now, so no need to rush things as they are happily growing away in Root trainers at this point.

9th May. Oca and tomatoes finally get planted out. The Root trainer method seems like a success, and I'm sure this will give them a better start than using pots.
Tomatoes planted, Oca laid ready to plant, beetroot doing well...
That's Cheltenham Greentop on the left, and 'White' on the right.

The tomato supports are on 16" spacing, with 24" between the staggered rows. Incidentally this assumes using the UK conventional cordon growing method (side-shooting, and deleafing lower part of stem). If you use the American cage method I'd go for much wider spacing.

5th June. Full ground cover from the  Oca between the tomatoes, and beet down the edges (beetroot now being harvested).
10th June. Tomatoes are starting to crop. (Below) This is Katja, a Siberian variety, surprisingly the first to ripen. Thanks to Søren of Toad's Garden for the seed.
31st June. Oca stems over-reach themselves and collapse down at this time of year. This, along with deleafing the lower part of the tomato cordons improves ventilation and light access. The dappled shade from the tomatoes is enjoyed by the Oca, reducing stress in hot weather.
8th August. Tomatoes in full production.

1st October. Tomatoes on the wane, Oca ascendance.

4th December, tomatoes removed after the first light frost.
Tubers are swelling!

Harvest still to come!


  1. Can't wait to see the finished article. Looks fascinating.

  2. Really fascinating stuff. I've never seen oca growing before.

  3. Ocas are looking good - how are they coping with the recent heat? Any sign of seed pods? My plants are flowering well at the moment and there was plenty of pollinator activity today.