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!potatoes!
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anyone ever messed with a yacon?

here's young one in a pot:
[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_4315.jpg[/img]
(first time posting a pic here, hope i got it)

native to bolivia, member of the sunflower family (like jerusalem artichokes) that make tubers that taste kinda sweet/sour and crunchy, a bit like an apple but with a less granular sort of structure. from what i've read, they're not anywhere near as invasive as jerusalem arti's can be and have a slightly weirder root-growth style...they have a 'crown' of rhizomes that are generally purple in color and shoot out shoots for all the aerial growth, but they also make storage tubers (that's the main thing eaten). they're perennial, though they apparently can't winter over outside where i am, gotta bring in the rhizomes in the fall, when you dig the tubers...the plants can get 3-5 feet tall and have 4" blooms, really softly fuzzy leaves. probably pretty darn attractive in high summer (will post more pics if this is the case!)

anyone ever seen one of these before? anyone grown them? if so, anything to look out for?

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!potatoes!
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that's a 'no,' then, huh?

they're getting bigger, but being somewhat brutalized by the 'summer of slug'
the biggest leaves are about 4.5 inches across in this pic:
[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_4525.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_4526.jpg[/img]

the real interesting pics won't come until harvest time.
Last edited by !potatoes! on Sat May 09, 2009 5:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

cynthia_h
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I've never even EATEN a yacon, much less grown it. Please keep us informed about the struggles/successes of your plant!

Cynthia H.
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!potatoes!
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i had never eaten it either, until the lady at the local grower's school gave me some to try and sold me a plant. will def. update as seems appropriate. I'm intrigued.

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!potatoes!
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gettin' bigger...
[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_4601.jpg[/img]

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Wow! it certainly looks happy. :D

Cynthia

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!potatoes!
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so far, we're having an 'everything is automatically well-watered because it keeps falling from the sky' season.

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!potatoes!
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[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_4829.jpg[/img]

note the quarter resting on one of the lower leaves, to compare with the quarter out in front on the previous picture...

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That's SOME plant! :D

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yesterday, with my backpack for scale:
[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_4935.jpg[/img]

cynthia_h
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What does it do w/regard to flowering?

Is it like the potato, where the tubers develop beneath the surface and are the true means of plant replication, flowers being almost an afterthought?

If so, those are gonna be some huge tubers, because that plant is v-e-r-y big, and it's not done yet.

Cynthia

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the pictures of the flowers i've googled have been what i expected knowing their relationships - like a lot of the somewhat smaller flowers in the sunflower family, like jerusalem artichoke, for example - 3 to 4" yellow-petaled daisy-lookin' things...it's definitely not done growing, as you say, new leaves coming at the ends of the stalks, no sign of buds.

but i think you're right, that flowers-for-reproduction are kind of an afterthought for this plant, again, like it's cousin, ol' jeru a'choke...i am VERY curious to see the underground portion of this plant. in a few months, let's be patient.

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Point, game, set, and match! :D

I am growing Helianthus tuberosus. They're confined on all four sides by concrete, so no chance of the tubers hiding under the juniper or anything. And, yes, there are a few flowers trying to open up, but I know from previous experience that the real story is under the soil line. And the flowers are small.

How big was the yacon you sampled, the one that inspired you to grow the plant? From the looks of the leaves, it must be significantly larger than a j.a. or even a large Yukon Gold potato....

Cynthia

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!potatoes!
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my j.a.'s are flowering now, 7 feet high, 6 or more flowers per stalk...and this in a garden that until very recently only got 4 (midday) hours of sun per day...wet springs...i wish we had more...even with the slugs.

anyway, the yacons-for-view when i got them were around the size of big sweet potatoes - up to maybe 10" long, diameter of 2.5 or 3", and tapered like a sweet potato too. so, yeah, big. and if i understood the lady i got it from correctly, the plant should make several of those big storage tubers, all connected by a rhizominous (but still pretty big and tuberous) crown.

we shall see.

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OK. I'm going to have to travel to the Berkeley Bowl, "foodie shrine," and see if they have any yacon(s). Not sure what the correct plural might be: yacon (like sheep/sheep)? or yacons (like cat/cats)?

But if they're the size of large sweet potatoes, I def. want to know more!

Cynthia

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!potatoes! wrote:the pictures of the flowers i've googled have been what i expected knowing their relationships - like a lot of the somewhat smaller flowers in the sunflower family, like jerusalem artichoke, for example - 3 to 4" yellow-petaled daisy-lookin' things...it's definitely not done growing, as you say, new leaves coming at the ends of the stalks, no sign of buds.

but i think you're right, that flowers-for-reproduction are kind of an afterthought for this plant, again, like it's cousin, ol' jeru a'choke...i am VERY curious to see the underground portion of this plant. in a few months, let's be patient.
Nice and large too. How long does it have to grow? It's three months so far.
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

https://s600.photobucket.com/albums/tt87 ... G00047.jpg

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!potatoes!
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from what i understand, you dig 'em after the plant dies back from the first frost that hits it (perhaps not a good choice for really short-season areas)...around here, that would put it late september, october, or (if we're lucky) even later...

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[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_5200.jpg[/img]

and this is what it looks like at the base, with a quarter for scale:
[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_5204.jpg[/img]

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Wow. If I were to plant one or two of those out by the street, no one could park in front of my house for fear that the plant would eat the car doors! Hmm... :twisted:

They look absolutely incredible. Edible roots; are the leaves/stems also edible, or are they biomass? Perennial, and you dig out some of the root?

Cynthia H.
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leaves are extremely fuzzy/hairy, and i would guess not terribly palatable. stems seems to be pretty woody, though it's possible that there's a softish pithy center to 'em. so, unless there's some livestock who would appreciate the fodder, then they're probably just compost ingredients, yeah. tender perennial - i would guess they may well overwinter outside where you are.

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Very nice! I've seen yacon on the food network and the tubars are huge!

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dig this - i dug it. sorry, our battery-charger for the camera is mia (looked for a while.) the last frost we got a week-and-change ago killed off the last leaves, and the hurricane blowover rains have ended. the end result: ~21.6lbs of tubers (including, yes, some giants - the biggest is about 14-16 in. long and 3.5in. wide most of the way...), a 12x12x3" block of purple rhizome tangle, and an ever-increasing crush i have on this plant...transplanted the rhizome into a big pot, may break it into several chunks later in the season; the tubers need to do something akin to 'bletting' for a week or so before i really start chowing down...had a bit of one we broke today, and it's sweet, but not quite perfect yet.

edit: never did flower this year, topped out at about 6 1/4 ft before high winds blew the bigger stems down.

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Just amazing. What a plant! 22 pounds! 10 kilograms! of food!!!

Cynthia

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Amazing, let us know how you cook it and how it tastes... I might have to try it next year!

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at this point, I'm not sure that i will cook any of them. for the most part, i've been washing and peeling them raw. the flesh of the tubers is frequently slightly yellow or orange tinged. taste/texturewise, it's on the same arc that asian pear and jicama (and maybe a mild-flavored celery) are on, juicy and slightly sweet. some of the smaller pieces are not quite as sweet, but most are.
i've basically just been eating them like fruit, though; wash and peel, and then crunch crunch crunch. good stuff. I'm sold. will probably check back in on this thread when i see how many plants the mess of rhizhomes will make...

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update:

three months later, there's still a couple of tubers left (was reminded to post this because i was eating one)...since I'm storing them in a canvas bag in the corner of the dining room, the poor things get forgotten from time to time. they're still holding well, not as firm as when dug, but also nowhere near as brittle. the flavor has rounded to point where the general sweetness has little hints of 'tropical flavor' which is vaguely familiar but ultimately too generalized to label as a specific other fruit. still quite juicy when chewed. all tubers eaten were peeled and eaten raw with nothing else done to them, it being so nice to still be able to have something that seems so fresh from the garden when it's been so cold out.

i separated the mass of rhizomes into 7 different pieces and replanted them (in pots in a cool corner, since they're pretty frost-sensitive), at least 5 of which have since sprouted and are sending up pale little shoots. kinda wish i could keep them colder and more dormant, but we do what we can. will probably give two plants away and plant whatever's left, as we're moving to a place where we've got lots of room to play. if that mean's I'm harvesting half my bodyweight in yacon, so be it.

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Sounds like a real find. I may need to persuade my gardening girlfriend to check them out, or I may need to dedicate a large container to them...

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Tater, I'm sold. It is an epic tale and an epic treasure, Think I will get at least one to start this year; food market be a good place to find it? Any thoughts?

Hey there's [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yac%C3%B3n]more to this plant than meets the palate[/url]. This stuff is REALLY good for you, and those leaves make an antioxidant tea just like green tea! Some kind of wonder plant you have there, Tater. Stores like a dream, no hypoglycemic index... Nice find... :!: :D

Propagation tips?

HG
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!potatoes!
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'Propagation tips?'

find someone who's got some. from what i understand, they hardly ever, if ever, produce viable seed (mine never even flowered last year), but the rhizomes split easily to multiply plants. i haven't found any 'official' (read=store) place to buy them, was lucky enough to find a lady selling them at the equivalent of a local organic agri-fair...interesting to remember that the thing that grew into the colossus pictured above started as the smallest (read=cheapest) pot on their table.

heck, if you're ever coming through the asheville, nc, area this spring, i might see fit to sell some...i imagine someone up your way grows them, but who knows? food market may have to tubers, but as far as i know they won't grow...they don't have eyes like a potato. good luck.

will have to try out the tea this year, thanks for that tip. will check out that link momentarily.

oh, and cynthia, a BIG container. the tubers radiate almost horizontally from the central mass of rhizomes like spokes of a wheel; the one i dug had a end-of-tuber-to-end-of-opposite-tuber diameter of about three/three and a half feet.

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It's times like these I wish I had a tissue culture lab in the basement... :roll:

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!potatoes! wrote: oh, and cynthia, a BIG container. the tubers radiate almost horizontally from the central mass of rhizomes like spokes of a wheel; the one i dug had a end-of-tuber-to-end-of-opposite-tuber diameter of about three/three and a half feet.
Wow. I was thinking a half-barrel, but...way too inadequate. Gotta rethink. I simply don't have any ground available. :(

Cynthia

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'It's times like these I wish I had a tissue culture lab in the basement...'

i guarantee i have said those exact words before, musta been back when i had a basement. i've been doing some hardwood cuttings this late-winter as part of a fruit class I'm taking, and it does scratch that itch a bit...

and yeah, cynthia, sorry to dampen your parade. they do seem to take space.

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update: yacon 2010!
[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/garden%20shots/IMG_6003.jpg[/img]

i went back into the pots i had separated and re-separated some chunks of rhizome, and I'm pretty sure i'll get plants from all 10 of those pots in the pic. still planning on giving away two or three to friends, so it's looking like i may have at least 7 plants going this year. glad I'm moving to a farm or it might not be feasible. been geeking out on perennial rootcrops in general during the last few months, and I'm happy to have this one in my collection.

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That is super awesome! I do hope you post pics of the tubers this year, it's so hard to imagine what a 3' tuber looks like! Good luck :)

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yacon again

it's been a while, i thought i'd resurrect this thread, as we've started our 2011 yacon harvest.

last year we had six plants (after giving a few away), but most of the tubers got frozen (storing in a spot we didn't think would freeze), so i was too irritated about the whole thing to post about it. this year we had 20 plants, and they've done quite well with a layered leafmulch-and-comfrey mulch around them. dug six plants a few days ago and got most of two 5-gallon buckets full of tubers, and another half-bucket of rhizome for next year. will keep digging the rest as i get a chance - they store quite well in the ground where they grew unless the ground freezes deep enough to get them...pics will follow when i can, looks like we'll have several hundred pounds when all is said and dug.

i've found that the flavor is best if after washing the tubers off, you let them dry, and they sit at room temperature (even where the sun will hit them a bit) for a few days (or weeks - they last pretty well, though they soften a little after a while). the skin takes on a nice earthy-purple color after a bit, and the flavor gets both sweeter and more complex.

this past summer, i did try a tea of the leaves, which HGscott mentioned you could do earlier in this thread...it's startlingly, unpleasantly, bitter...so i imagine it's as good for you as they say. i think i'll stick to the tubers.

i will have some rhizome available for sale, for those with a long enough season, and relatively near to me (I'm in western NC, and don't really want to ship them far - i'd rather be more sure the quality stays super-high), either this fall or in the spring. message me if interested.

will update with pics as i get them together. 8)

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Wow this is awesome :shock: I wish I had a garden, Im missing alot!!! My dad has diabetes and since Yacon contains undigestable but still tasty sugars (to humans) this would be a great treat for him!!

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just one picture for now:

[img]https://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j248/khoomeizhi/for%20web/yaconbucket.jpg[/img]

top view of a full 5-gal bucket of tubers. you can almost see, if you look closely, how they very nearly glow when they've just been dug and the sun hits them. while the skin is still pale and they're at their most water-filled. no real giants so far this year, though there are quite a few tubers that are easily more than a pound.

i think I'm going to sell some to myself (in my capacity as deli manager at the local food coop) and make a raw salad that mimics some recipes for jicama salad i've seen - with onions, carrots, maybe some granny smith or other sourish apple...should be good.

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You have me totally sold on these! And since you don't live too far from me, I feel confident about getting them to grow in my garden.
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/drool


THANK YOU!
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I'll try them some day when I have more space. I have heard of yacon before, it is popular with the raw food diet crowd. I have never eaten it though.

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