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Description: This herbaceous perennial root vegetable, native to the Andes in South America, is suited to many areas of Australia. It produces large creamy-white roots similar in size to a carrot. It will grow in any good well-drained garden soil, but sandy soil is preferred with a pH of 5 to 6. It is relatively frost-hardy and produces best tuber growth between 14-21°C.
Secondary tubers are eaten boiled, baked or fried; they have a crisp texture and delicate flavour. The roots are high in vitamin A, calcium and have a starch content of 10-25% which is easily digested. Young, tender stems are eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. It can also be used as an animal fodder with the coarse main tuber and the leaves fed to livestock.
The recommended planting time is spring in temperate areas, at the beginning of the rainy season in subtropical and tropical areas. Propagation is by offshoots produced by the main crown. After cutting the offshoot from the crown, the leaves are trimmed back to just a few centimetres. The base of the offset is also trimmed short, on a slant, leaving only a third of the offshoot stem. The base of the offshoot is cut into a cross, to stimulate root development. They are then left to dry in a sheltered environment for 2-3 days before planting. Rooting the offshoots in potting mix before transplanting to the garden improves the rate of establishment.
The main crop of edible secondary tubers (offshoots of the main tuber) matures 300-400 days after planting, some young tubers can be harvested after 120-240 days. If the plant flowers then harvesting is recommended.