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OCA GROWING INFORMATION
© Frances Michaels
BOTANICAL NAME: Oxalis tuberosa
New Zealand yam; truffette acide; papa roja; quiba; ibias; knollen-sauerklee
Oxalidaceae, the oxalis or wood sorrel family
A compact, attractive, bushy perennial plant with clover-like leaves to 20 - 30 cm high. Oca tubers look
like stubby, wrinkled carrots. It is suited to some temperate areas and will tolerate high altitudes. It
is definitely not suitable to subtropical or tropical climates over summer. Oca is resistant to low
temperatures and thrives in moderately cool climates but freezing will kill the foliage.
If the tubers are already established it will re-sprout. Temperatures above 28°C cause the plant to wilt. Tubers
start forming 4 months after planting and production peaks at 6 months. It tolerates a wide range of soil types
Oca uses are similar to a potato i.e. oca can be boiled, baked or fried. In Mexico, oca is commonly sprinkled
with salt, lemon and hot pepper and eaten raw. It is also made into pickles with vinegar. In the Andes, the
tubers are placed in the sun for a few days, to sweeten them. The leaves can be eaten as a sorrel substitute.
Oca can also be used as a pig forage; tubers and foliage are relished by pigs.
The recommended planting time is spring in cool areas and at the beginning of the wet season in warmer areas.
To plant cover the tubers with soil to a depth of 5 cm; space plants 30 cm apart. Oca plants should be hilled
like potatoes to encourage tuber formation, at about 4 months.
When the tubers are mature, the foliage starts to die back. Oca is more perishable than potatoes, but if
properly handled can be stored at room temperature for some months. Store the best tubers for propagation the
next season in dry sand or sawdust, in a cool dark place.
I live in Brisbane and really love oca, will it grow for me?
Answer: in order to successfully grow it, you need to 'reverse' the season. It stores
remarkably well in a plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge. Buy it and store it until March. Winter
temperatures in frost-free areas of Queensland are ideal to grow oca. The summer is simply too hot, humid and
wet. Once you successfully grow your crop, save some of it in the fridge every year for autumn planting. It
grows well in styrofoam boxes and planter bags, as well.
Not to NORFOLK ISLAND, NT, SA, TAS or WA
SORRY but due to quarantine restrictions between Australian States no plants at all can be ordered
by residents of Norfolk Island
. These restrictions are very important as they prevent
the spread of plant pests and diseases. No potatoes, garlic, shallots, strawberries or tubestock
can be sent to South Australia
. No tubestock can be sent to
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