Name: Oca 'Solomon'. Oca is often called New Zealand Yam in New Zealand.
Origin: South America
Oca is a close relative of the weed oxalis that you may find in your garden, though oca does not go weedy, and produces tasty tubers in late Autumn/early Winter. They have a starchy, potato like flavour and texture.
'Solomon' is a variety from the Garden Larder breeding/selection program. The tubers are pink with red eyes. It is an average producer of 1/2 to one kg per plant. Tubers vary in size with many large. Soil conditions can cause spottiness of the skin.
When to sow: After frosts in spring. October in Southern Australia. Plant tubers directly where they are to grow.
Plant Type: Small bush. Tuberous vegetable
Uses: Cook like potatoes, usually roasted until soft, but can be microwaved or added to stews. If you leave the tubers to dehydrate they become sweet, often sweet enough to eat like you would dried fruit.
Little tubers can also be steamed and eaten.
Flavour after sweetening (storing for a week or more to sweeten):
Raw - starchy
Roasted with a spray of cooking oil and no salt or other flavours - sweet/savoury.
Growing Conditions: The are not fussy about soil but should be grown in light soil with good organic matter for ease of harvest. Keep well watered throughout the growing period. Needs shade in the heat of summer - shadehouse, fernery, shadecloth bed covers, or even the eastern side of a house.
Do not grow in very wet or manured soil but throw some fertiliser like chicken manure pellets (Rooster Booster) or a all purpose fertiliser when the weather cools down in Autumn.
They can be grown in large pots but produce better in the ground.
Harvesting and storage: Oca should be left until they totally die down in Autumn. The tubers continue growing while the stems die. After harvest keep the tubers you are going to eat in a basket in an airy place for a couple of weeks to sweeten them. Cook, or store in a cool place, even in paper or a plastic bag in the fridge crisper.
For tubers you are going to replant, place them in a plant pot and cover with potting mix. Leave out where the soil will not dry out completely. They will start sprouting in spring and when you see that you can plant them out.
Pests and Diseases: Sometimes mice will eat the tubers before they are harvested.
Special Qualities: Flavour. Productive
Seeds: Five mini tubers in packet. Unlike some tuberous vegetables, small oca tubers can be left for regrowing and still produce full sized plants. Please note that small tubers and those exposed to light may change colour. This is normal and they will still be the variety stated.