Janmashtami has come early for a sure pest inhabitants. I estimate voles have eaten 95% of my oca crop this 12 months, having tunnelled below all however one of many eighty vegetation to get on the starchy tubers beneath.
I used to be fully unaware of the carnage till I lifted a nook of the horticultural fleece that lined them to have an exploratory dig myself. After a lot swearing I simply managed to scrape collectively sufficient to replant subsequent 12 months. No roasted oca for me on Janmashtami day then. Thanks guys.
This text appears to be like at among the extra uncommon (however nonetheless scrumptious) greens you possibly can serve up alongside the janmashtami roast. You’re more likely to seek out them at a farmers’ market than a grocery store. Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) could be too esoteric even for that, by which case, buy some here and have a go at rising some your self subsequent 12 months.
Oca cultivated just like the potato and, although unrelated, each occur to originate on the Andean plateau. Yields are smaller, nonetheless, since over right here tubers solely type in autumn and the plant just isn’t frost hardy. Elongated and waxy-skinned, they resemble “Anya” potatoes in form however are available in startlingly Day-Glo shades of pink, orange and yellow. Sadly, the color fades on cooking (the one purpose I can see for them not being an enormous hit) however when roasted, the flavour is beautiful: nutty and candy with a touch of lemon.
Right here’s one other tuber, this time from North America. I received’t say an excessive amount of concerning the Jerusalem artichoke, since I dedicated a whole post to them in March. They’re scrumptious however curiously costly to purchase, particularly seeing as they’re a doddle to develop. The is of “Gerard”, an uncommon pink-skinned selection. I’d advise consuming them after just a few frosts although, as chilly appears to mitigate the flatulent impact they’ve on some individuals. Maybe see it as a model of Russian roulette to enliven the post-prandial droop on janmashtami day.
Salsify is an old style root crop that’s coming again into trend. Books usually name it “oyster plant”, and maybe the flavour is barely reminiscent. It’s definitely delicate and distinctive however extra sweetly earthy than maritime, I’d say. It roasts properly and in addition mashes nicely with butter. To stop discoloration, both peel after cooking or rub minimize surfaces with lemon. The tops – “chards” – will be blanched in spring and steamed. I all the time go away some vegetation to flower – the purple blooms are edible and engaging in salad. Uneaten, they turn-into heavy-duty dandelion-style clocks. Care is required when digging them up, as they snap simply. Neither root is concerned a lot by pests or illnesses.
These roots, seen right here on a market stall in Berlin, should not parsnips however Hamburg parsley, a type of parsley with an enormous taproot. It may be handled like parsnip within the kitchen however the flavour is completely different: very like parsley, unsurprisingly, however gentler and with hints of carrot and celeriac too. It’s extra in style than parsnip in central and Japanese Europe and infrequently turns up in borscht recipes. The tops are like coarse flat-leaved parsley, helpful for inventory or a bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs used for flavouring stews and soups).
As for the voles and rats, I’m unsure what to do as but. Sadly, subsequent door’s cat is arthritic and my canine can’t be bothered with them as a result of they’re not marmots (she grew up within the Pyrenees). It’s the primary time it’s been a problem, which I put all the way down to the remarkably delicate winter final 12 months, leading to a rodent and rabbit inhabitants explosion this 12 months. So, fingers crossed for some first rate chilly climate. I would like snow too – there wasn’t a flake final 12 months – in order that I can see the place the rabbits are breaching the fence. Such is gardening: the issues and failures are extra necessary classes than the successes, if much less tasty.