Gardening

How to plant hollow

Oxalis tuberosa

Hollow is a plant that has leaves similar to clover leaves and produces edible tubers that vary greatly in external color, size, flavor and texture, depending on the variety.

The numerous varieties grown are essentially divided into two types of tubers, acidic and sweet. Acid hollows contain a high concentration of oxalic acid, and although they can be eaten raw or cooked in moderate amounts, they are usually processed until the tubers become completely dehydrated. Sweet-type hollows, on the other hand, contain a low concentration of oxalic acid and are usually consumed cooked, fried or even raw, and can be used in various types of culinary recipes.

Plant cultivated in the Andes for many centuries, the hollow usually reaches 20 to 30 cm in height and the tubers can be white, yellow, orange, pink, red or purple. Its leaves and flowers, like the leaves of other plants of the Oxalis genus , can also be eaten raw or cooked, as long as in moderate amounts.

Climate

This is a plant that grows best in mild weather. Although it can survive low temperatures and frosts, these conditions usually kill the aerial part of the plant, which sprouts from rhizomes or tubers when the temperature rises again. On the other hand, it does not normally grow well at temperatures above 28 ° C, especially if the nights are also hot.

Brightness

Cultivate with direct sunlight or, in warmer regions, in partial shade with good light.

The hollow variety should be chosen according to the region’s latitude, as many varieties traditionally grown in the Andes are sensitive to the region’s photoperiod, that is, the number of hours of daylight, requiring days with less than 12 hours of light to start tuber formation. However, there are cultivated varieties that are neutral with respect to the photoperiod.

Ground

The hollow is quite tolerant in terms of the soil, but produces better in light, well-drained, fertile and rich in organic matter.

Irrigation

Irrigate to keep the soil moist, but not soaked.

Planting

Hollow is usually propagated through tubers, but sometimes plant stolons or stolons are also used. It is unusual to use seeds, as they are difficult to obtain and have a low germination rate.

Large tubers can be cut into pieces that contain at least two or three egg yolks (“eyes”). The pieces should be left in the sun for a few days for the cuts to dry before planting. However, smaller whole tubers are normally planted, which are less suitable for consumption.

The tubers to be planted must be chosen from the most productive and healthy plants in a plantation, and when planted they can be buried horizontally to a depth of approximately 5 cm in the soil. The spacing between the planting lines can be 60 to 90 cm, with 40 to 50 cm between plants. With the smallest spacing, plants can completely close the soil area, preventing people from moving between the planting lines.

Cultivation

Remove invasive plants that are competing for resources and nutrients, especially at the beginning of cultivation.

Pile dirt on the stalls or stumps (“creeping stems”) often. The more stolons that are buried, the greater the production of tubers.

Harvest

The tubers are harvested from 6 to 9 months after planting, depending on the cultivated variety and growing conditions, being done when the foliage is yellow and dry. Tubers need to be carefully removed from the ground, as they can be easily damaged. In the Andes, tubers of sweet varieties are exposed to the sun during the day and low temperatures at night for several days, thus acquiring a more sweet flavor. Acid varieties undergo a drying process before being used.

Leaves and flowers can be harvested for consumption when necessary, as long as the plants are well developed. People with kidney problems or arthritis should avoid consuming hollow leaves.

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