Thursday, 5 January 2012


Mashua 'Pilifera' has given me a very encouraging crop this year.

... unlike last year when I grew them 'properly' i.e. on their own. They struggled, probably because they were too exposed to strong sun, and weren't watered enough, but I did get some small tubers before the frost finished things.

This year I bi-cropped them with tall peas. 'Relay-cropping' is probably a more accurate term, as the crops overlapped rather than coincided in time.
My logic was to make shared use of the 7ft high pea supports, and for the Mashua to benefit from the shading and summer watering associated with the peas. After the pea crop was harvested, I just left the Mashua to climb through the dying stems for the remainder of the season, until killed by the frost.

This worked so well that I think I feel a few other Mashua-based polyculture schemes coming on...

Meanwhile here are some of the cleaned up tubers...

Notice that one tuber has resprouted — indicative of the recent mild weather, and demonstrating the plant's perennial intentions.
My single specimen of an unknown gold-coloured variety failed to survive the Summer, and has left no tubers. It's a pity, because I grew the two varieties through each other with the specific aim of facilitating cross-fertilisation.
That didn't work, but as at least the Pilifera has set some seed on its own.
Like Oca most Mashua clones are day-length sensitive, so growing from seed is potentially valuable in creating variation that may include earlier tuberisation.
What  I would like is to obtain the variety 'Ken Aslet' which flowers and crops earlier, and grow the two together with a view to crossing. Anyone got a couple of surplus KA tubers?

Well, if you don't ask, you don't get!


  1. Mashua is definitely a reasonably easy crop to grow and deserves some serious atention. My plants also resprouted like yours. Hope those tubers are tasty.....

  2. Tasty isn't a word I'd use to describe Mashua, but a good hall of tubers there none the less.

    I did have 'Ken Ashlet' at one point but after tasting the tubers I gave it away. The taste is beyond disgusting to me and I wouldn't deliberately grow it again. That said I have had Mashua pop up for the past two years in the bed where I grew it.

    I suspect they are seedlings but have never bothered to explore the situation. I'll take a look to see if any tubers are present this weekend, if there are tubers there you'd be welcome to them.

    I'll check back in and let you know later.

  3. I know much has been said about the culinary characteristics of mashua, and I've not tasted others, but this variety seems quite pleasant to me.

    Mybighair, those tubers would be much appreciated.

  4. I love to find a blog full of crops I've never heard of, or at least never seen grown here. And it's a bonus when they are nicely photographed. I was wondering if you might add your garden to Folia the online gardening website (it's free). You'd be a very welcome addition to the site as you clearly have knowledge that others could benefit from.

    I'm always looking to encourage more gardeners to join and am having an extra push this week while the weather is keeping most people indoors.

    It's a great resource for gardeners and has helped me keep on top of my 800+ plantings with photo's, notes, journals, milestones etc. They have an extensive plant wiki and a seed stash section where people can also list seeds for swapping. Here's the link to my Folia page so you can see how it works:

  5. Looks like your in luck Ian, the two plants I spotted this season have tuberized.

    One looks like 'Ken Ashlet' did so may be a survivor from the original planting or a seedling, the other is pure white so is definitely a seedling.

    Most of the tubers where badly slug damaged but I managed to collect 4 undamaged tubers from the 'Ken Ashlet' look alike and 3 from the white seedling. Not huge tubers but should be fine for seed.

    Just email me your address and I'll post them through.

  6. Fascinating stuff! I found that lots of my potatoes had started to sprout in the very warm Autumn too.

  7. Awesome. Mashua, sunroot & runner beans I wonder.. So I'm pretty sure I have the Ken Aslet varietal.. The woman I scored the tuber from seemed to think so anyway.. It crops early and heavy for us here in Northern California. Would be happy to send ya some tubers! Maybe you have a few Skirret youngins you could send this way in exchange? Onward.

  8. Also.. Daylily bulbs? We have a few varieties that are decent size (big thumb) & delicious.. diced, fried with salt and pepper mhmhm nutty hash brownish.. Anyway. Keep on keepin on good stuff.

    Ah and Dahlias.. yum