If you’re up and outside early enough on a bright, frosty morning you can get some lovely arty photos of ice-laced seed heads, and late flowers dusted with white. Not that this is a great example of an arty, frosty photo… there will, no doubt, be plenty of those in all the gardening magazines over the next couple of months.
Head out later in the day, and you’re more likely to end up with pictures of soggy, wilting, frost-burned leaves – better suited to the compost heap, rather than the photo album.
The first frost of this winter arrived at the start of the week. Later than usual, but it signalled an end to the summer crops. Overnight the leaves on the still-productive courgette plants became brown and useless. Although, to be fair, no one in the family is mourning the loss of courgettes on the tea table… some good things, it seems, you can have too much of.
The yakon leaves have been turned more of a silvery-grey. Like the oca and mashua that I’m growing for the first time this year, yakon produces its tubers later in the year. All three plants are originally from South America, but have yet to catch on in Europe as a crop in the way the potato, that other Andean staple, has… probably because they need a longer growing season, making them less reliable as a food source in our climate.
I started the yakon off in pots back in the spring. Because of the house (and garden…) move, they were maybe in those pots longer than they really wanted to be. Planted out in July, they’ve put on most of their leafy growth since late August. Both the oca and mashua also started out in small pots in the greenhouse. I kept one of each in big pots on the patio, and the remaining plants were given space in the new veggie plot. They grew much better in the veg patch – especially the mashua, which has covered the tepee of canes I put in for support and them moved onto the cucumber tepee and took that over too. These rampant plants are now flowering, and haven’t been knocked back to the same extent by the frost.
I’m trying to be patient and do as the websites say – waiting at least a couple of weeks after the frost has completely killed off the plants before digging up the tubers… but it’s not easy. I’m keen to try these new delicacies. And while I wait, is it too much like ‘counting my chickens’ to be looking up recipes for the anticipated crop?