In truth, we planted a couple of rows at the beginning of May, and then panicked along with all the other gardeners when the late May frost popped up on the 10 day forecast. We tucked those plants in for a week under row cover and fortunately it didn’t get as cold as some forecasts suggested, barely touching 32F and leaving just a light frost.
But we’re very glad that the cold weather is behind us and have started planting out in earnest. Here’s a quick summary of what went in the ground this week:
Ube and White Yam (Dioscorea alata)
Ube forms beautiful vines of deep purple when young, fading to dappled green. In time, the heart shaped leaves and rambunctious vines can reach 20-30ft. We’ll be constructing a high trellis out of bamboo and string!
The white yam is no less excitable, and was very ready to leave my shed, actually one of the vines nearly made it on their own.
Ube and white yam got a 25 foot row each and I spaced them at about 18″, which may prove to be a little tight, but given our slightly cooler season, there is a chance that they wont get quite as big as they did in Union County, NC last year.
Arrowroot (Maranata arundinacea)
Arrowroot was one of the plants that we planted in the beginning of May, but I had space in the row (12″ spacing, so 25 plants total). We have seen the rhizome of Arrowroot surviving frost and still remain viable, but the leaves are certainly susceptible to the cold and the ones in the ground had suffered a little frostbite.
We made a Meet-the-Plant video for Arrowroot, which you can see HERE.
Achira (Canna edulis)
These plants are just beautiful, their red tinted leaves give a real tropical feel and the edible rhizome can get huge. We only have six of these in the ground, with 18″ spacing, but board member Yanna Fishman has told me she has more, so hopefully we’ll fill out a row.
We made a Meet-the-Plant video for Achira, which you can see HERE.
True Potato Seed (Solanum tuberosum)
I bought 100 true potato seeds from Cultivariable, knowing I would get a good mix of genetics to start selecting for a great performing Southern Potato! Those hundred seeds turned into about 140 seedlings and we managed to get 120 of them into 4 rows, which is about 8-9″ spacing (a little tight…). Very excited to see if we get anything interesting because if we do it’s an instant new variety!
You can see one of my all star volunteers in the background (want to volunteer – Sign up here). This is Tiffany, perhaps if we get a great new potato we’ll call it Tiffany Tater…
Edible Dahlia (Kaiser wilhelm x D. coccinea)
We are part of a participatory breeding program organized by William Whitson of Cultivariable. We planted 100 seeds and have just transplanted 75 seedlings of a Dahlia cross, with the aim of assessing culinary traits of the tuber. Excited to see them grow, but even more excited for taste testing in the fall!
Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)
We planted three plants of three varieties of Yacon aka Bolivian Sunroot. Our plan is to compare these varieties the the one that has been grown in this region for many seasons, and to expand the yacon diversity on offer.
We also have a secret hope that they will flower and we can grow seed for regional adaptation, our variety has never flowered for us.
Thanks for following along with our experimental farm work. We hope you also survived the cold snap and are able to grow some of your own food! Please consider supporting our work by becoming a Patron of the Utopian Seed Project.