Our new 4-Thirds Lifestyle. Overshoot?

Wild and wooly could best describe the past 2 months.

A Thick Skin

Ann and Gord both Elected to municipal government.

Over the past week we have been going to councillor school, and one word of advice that is repeated over and over… develop a thick skin as no matter what decision you make, half the people will think you are an idiot, and the other half will love you.   We have also become acquainted with the term ‘pecuniary’.   One of the rarest forms of pecuniary interests that any elected official has ever had to be forthright about is our contract to clean the local public washroom and collect the shit… imagine that, politicians that collect it rather than distribute it.   Though I am sure one could argue that we spread our share of manure.

Speaking of manure and trying to make sense of it, we are delving deep into our new policy and procedural manual.   I can gaurantee  that this 445 page manual is one of the most entertaining reads this week.

If you ever wanted to amend an amending motion to an amendment...

If you ever wanted to amend an amending motion to an amendment…

A day after the election, we were given a tool for the job, a thick skin.  An elk hide

Elk hide is being stretched on the woodshed.

Elk hide is being stretched on the woodshed.

to be exact, one day old, and in need to be salted, scraped, pickled, rinsed, scudded,  tanned, smoked and then shaved.  So on to a new learning process, and hopefully complete in time for Gord to make himself some elk slippers for winter.

This processing of the hide is an interesting educational adventure, especially to attempt to learn the process off the internet, trying to identify the chemical changes required for each step, and trying to replicate with non toxic materials we have here… and up front, I can say we don’t have the brains to perform a brain tanning process (Gord eagerly refused… wimp!).

We are tanning our hides with the fur on.  This is the elk hide, future slippers and cob bench covering.

We are tanning our hides with the fur on. This is the elk hide, future slippers and cob bench covering.

Instead of hydrochloric or sulphuric acid, Gord used oxalic acid; instead of brains or chrome sulphate, he is using oak leaf mulch boiled to create an organic tanning liquor; and to replicate the fatty acids that exist in the myelin sheath of the brain neurones we will be attempting to use coconut oil.   For the smoking stage, we will use cedar, thyme, and rosemary which should leave the final hide smelling wonderful enough to chew on.  Boo is smiling.

As we write this, a deer hide was also dropped off from the neighbour.    Wonderful… Gord can make Ann a skirt to go along with her slippers he made a few years back.  What a great attire for the council table; two rookie

Deer hide being pickled in salt and oxalic acid.

Deer hide being pickled in salt and oxalic acid.

councillors, whom live in a mud house, shit in a bucket, have mud couches with hides for cushions, adorned in thick skins. Beginning to look a lot more like the Flintstones.   Hope the hell the Escort station wagon doesn’t die;  else we’ll be cutting a hole in the floor and using our feet to propel us to the meetings.

Lemons in December

Summer 2014.  Curvey bed gardens in front of the south wall.  Lemons have done well with freezing Nov temperatures

Summer 2014. Curvey bed gardens in front of the south wall. Lemons have done well with freezing Nov temperatures

The gardens are settling in, though we have had a cold spell (cold for Victoria) of -4C and yet the lemons continue to flourishes on the front of the cob house in the cement beds built earlier in the year.  Winter veggies planted are growing away.  As we write, it is December 1st, and still our lunches are of salads with fresh greens, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, homemade cheese, winter quash soups, and sauerkraut.  The tea plants bloom at this time of the year, all thriving, and seeds from last years bloom have been collected, stratified and planted.

Baring the concepts of the New Economy

Additional activities  this past month, include Gord’s  presentation  for Living The New Economy, which in brief is an economy that is based on other currencies than just financial.   These other currencies are tied to other forms of capital, where transactions within natural capital, social, cultural and spiritual capitals, intellectual and experiential capitals all interact to support greater diversity in each.   Gord’s topic was “MaLNEking Eco-Sense of Permanomics”, wherein he stripped down out of his business suit to his infamous eco-sense overalls, and then out of these overalls down to his Stanfeild onsies… live streamed online in an effort to metaphorically demonstrate the need to shed our cultural layers and get down to the basics to understand true economics.   Don’t know if the audience will ever be the same, luckily there were no costume prop glitches like Janet Jackson… no nipple flips or otherwise small inappropriate items of distraction.

Another wonderful opportunity, came in the form of a request to help research and write guidelines and regulations for the Ministry of Health on Greywater and Composting Toilets.  This was a request of the ministry to one of the best qualified engineers on the topic of septic and sewage regulations.  Ann and I are are two of a team of five technical writers.

We are becoming a FARM!

Gord in the new propagation greenhouse - heated by compost and the sun.

Gord in the new propagation greenhouse – heated by compost and the sun.

We dropped off our farm application package on October 30, and while in the office they suggested that we should apply for the previous year as well.  This automatically triggers a farm site inspection, which also occurred this past week.  On arriving, the inspector was taken with everything from the fencing, water and grey water systems, the propagation green house heated by horse manure, the eco-hut sales office… but most of all was that she had never seen a farm such as this before.  She was amazed at the sheer quantity of diverse food trees and integrated systems atop this rocky hill, and commented that she was always told “this is impossible”.  She left that day with one request and one statement… “Can I bring my office up here on a tour to show them what is possible?”, and  “I never say thanks at the end of an inspection… THANK YOU!”     She also could not believe that two people pulled this off, without training, and manage it.

Homesteading Partners

We were not shy telling the Farm Assessment inspector that we are barely keeping on top of it, and that for this very reason we are looking for a couple that is wanting to dive in, live with us and continue the push.   We are looking for people who want to largely earn their livelihood from this piece of land, whether their passions are herbs and medicinals, nuts and fruits, annuals, perennials, aquaculture, animals or ????.  The opportunity will begin in the Spring of 2015 and the rent may be decreased based on skills and experience levels.  Here is a PDF with more information.  

Three wheelbarrows of winter quash harvested this year.  Most from the roof.

Three wheelbarrows of winter quash harvested this year. Most from the roof.

In our efforts to lead a 3-Thirds lifestyle it was pointed out that we have just moved into a 4-Quarters lifestyle… though our gut thinks it might be more like 4- Thirds “overshoot” lifestyle; 1/3 working for an income, 1/3 volunteering, 1/3 following our passions and growing our food, and 1/3 serving the community.  It will be interesting this next 4 years.  Three fellow councillors spoke of climate change, economics of the future, the carbon bubble, and one was prepared to speak to the dystopia we are likely to find ourselves navigating in the near future.   Will this be the period where community becomes the paramount purveyor of sanity and connection?  Quite possibly as the World Bank states that our earth is heading for a 4 degree C rise in global average temperatures by the year 2060. Most intellectuals and academics agree that global civilization cannot adapt to this rapid change.  Business as usual IS NOT an option…We either change willing or unwillingly.  We know what we would choose.  Try like hell with everything we’ve got.





Ann Baird & Gord Baird ELECTED

Ann and Gord – Both elected to Highlands Council

Integrating Business, Science, Ethics, Ecology and Passion

Many Highlanders may recognize Gord and Ann from 9 years of media coverage documenting their adventures creating the Eco-Sense homestead in the District of Highlands.  Or they may recognize Ann and Gord from the full size road side “campaign” sign which we borrowed from the 2008 Royal BC Museum exhibit.

Sign for the election all complete, with Ann reluctantly plucked from the garden to have her picture taken (with carrots she just plucked and Boo looking to pluck some carrots himself).

It’s True!

Yes it is true.   Ann and Gord are running for District of Highlands council.    More info coming on Wednesday.      What do you think we have to offer?    Let us know, send us a comment.

Cheers from Ann and Gord

Ann and Gord… on the roof of their Eco-Sense home.

Ann and Gord… on the roof of their Eco-Sense home.

Changes at Eco-Sense (See bottom for special news)

The Change of Seasons:  We started our morning rescuing the sweet potatoes from the various little four legged rodent “friends” who also share our food.   I used to hold a distasteful opinion of the rats and mice helping themselves to our food.  I recall a time when we lived in the trailer while building our home, when we (actually me) spent considerable time live trapping our trailer companions while on route to relocate them while Ann would pet the little guys on the head as I walked by… the mom mouse in the live trap and babies hanging around.  Long story, cute story, and in one of our updates about 7 years ago.     (Everything becomes a better story with the passing of time.)  Today, I look at the rats and mice with more affection, very beautiful and healthy little beings that climb the Arbutus, eat the beets and carrots and this week, the sweet potatoes.   Time to encourage them move on and signal us to the next crop that needs to be picked… and something says apples and tomatillos based on the chew marks. Really, the rats are amazing, as they know when something is ready to eat, and by watching their actions in the garden, we can respond in enough time to collect our share of the garden goodies; they won’t drink a fine wine before its time.  (Gord might…but the rodents have more sense).   And there are the other messengers –  the rabbits eating the goji berries, lentils and chickpeas, the robins with the raspberries, and the yellow jackets with the grapes. So today as we  also harvest the dried Orca beans, scarlett runners, helda green beans for fermenting, chickpeas, lentils, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and the list goes on, we wonder why our harvest season is a bit different than most.   Then it strikes us – we are shifting our production and preservation systems away from the more perishable annuals, as well as shifting from canning and freezing to drying, fermenting, and to foods that don’t require much processing.   There is less of the urgent rush that you can not keep up to.  It gives us a false feeling that the garden is not productive this year, but the pantry jars are filling with dried foods and the garden keeps producing…yet Ann has been mumbling something about all the winter veggie starts getting eaten by tiny slugs.  Sigh…but then we consider that this land is not just here for singular human purpose..the land is primarily here to feed all the others  (the ecosystem); and this is exactly how it should be.  Nature gives to us and we need to give back…it’s called sharing.

Cob bathroom at Eagles Lake

Cob bathroom at Eagles Lake

The Zucchini god has visited Eco-Sense this year and the prolific harvest has been dried into cubes and slices, and later this week they’ll be grated, mixed with garlic, apple cider vinegar, tamari soy, sesame seeds and then dried in sheets to make crackers.     Imagine… no rush to force zucchini onto the arms of unsuspecting strangers while they are using the composting toilet facilities at the Eagle’s Lake cob bathroom.

Sweet potato greens exploding.

Sweet potato greens exploding.

The other wonderful surprise this year has been learning that sweet potato leaves are highly edible and nutritious.  I (Gord) eat them when in the garden, and Ann has been drying them for tea and for seasoning hearty winter soups.  I learned of the immense benefit of these while researching food items for Emily, and WOW are the leaves ever chocked full of nutrients.     The dried leaves are an amazing tea, even better than dried nettles in both taste and nutrients.

So Small and has fruit!

So Small and has fruit!

Fall Sales of Edible Perennial Plants:  On a different note, we had our fall order of plants arrive; an exciting time as the plants are beautiful and long awaited additions to all of our regular items.  The 2 year old Sweet Fuyu persimmons arrived, and some have fruit on them!   I’m also personally excited about the new hop additions of Sterling and Willamete to add to our Cascades.  (Gord lives for beer).   If anyone has had our home brew… we will have some fun opportunities to play with new flavours.  The really exciting thing is the arrival of the Illinois Everbearing Mullberry; we sold out right away on the last order.   This time, to place the order, we were told to phone six months in advance.  So on July 1st at 7am we ordered  40.

So many plants, so many functions,

So many plants, so many functions,

We often get asked, “what plants are we most impressed with since we started our nursery this past spring?”   A tough question as some plants have been the biggest sellers, and some we have fallen in love with.  The big sellers here are the sea buck thorn (sea berry), walking onion, goumi, crosne, oca, currants, figs, dwarf cherries and a whole shit load of various hardy kiwis.   The plants we have fallen in love with have been the tea, mulberry, cornelian cherry, chestnut, autumn olive, yellow horn, the hardy kiwis… and our lemons too!     Then you walk down the path and you just can’t stop and think how much you admire the properties of each of he plants.  Click here for a complete list of plants, availability, and prices.

Two Perennial Plants Sales This saturday (September 20).  For those who live on Southern Vancouver Island there are two options for drooling over perennial plants:  the Eco-Sense Nursery from 10am-2 pm, and Hatchet and Seed’s perennial plant sale from 1pm-4pm in North Saanich.  What a fabulous place to live with huge local selections.

Our Big News:  We are looking for home-steading partners
As the seasons change so do our lives.  This is a time of family transition here at Eco-Sense as Ann’s parents are moving back to Vancouver.  We are looking for like minded fragrance free friends to embark upon the next co-housing homesteading phase of Eco-Sense with us.   This PDF link  provides the details of this very unique opportunity to live in a mud house and shit in a bucket.

Page 1 of 4

Page 1 of 4

What’s the news at Eco-Sense? Updated Sat. 13th

Could it be that the nuts trees are growing crazy?

Could it be that we are going nuts?

Could it be that … ooops we have to wait just a few more days before the news.   But if we are caught in a plant frenzy stupor this Saturday while we sell our nuts trees, like our 3 types of walnuts, 3 types of chestnuts, yellow horn, sweet ultra hardy northern pecan, and blight resistant hazelnuts from OSU (Oregon State University), we might be spill the beans.

We went through the summer with our nursery plants, not expecting anything other than just caring for them through the drought of July and August, not expecting to have any surprises, but low and behold we had gojis, sea buck thorn and autumn olives set fruit, and the european olives and lemons have fruit on them.   Yum!

Other things experienced this week include Boo going in for surgery, having four teeth pulled and costing close to $2000.  No hard feelings, but wow, having a dog that has the freedom Boo has, can be costly… and it was pointed out that wolfs only live four to five years due to fractured teeth.

Our Goumis, Illinois Everbearing Mulberries and 4 variety of hops are delayed in Vancouver, and will not arrive till Monday, so for those on the waiting list, you will receive your call soon, and we may have a few extras, though they seem to go quick.   Email us if you wish to be on the backup list for any of the extra items.

See some of you tomorrow, Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm.

Sweet Fuyu Persimmon
Illinois EverBearing Mulberry
Tasmania Vine
Sezchuan Pepper tree
Hops (Willamete, Sterling, Cascade)
Kosor Elderberry
Ready to go for Saturday Sept 20…
Today almost all the Meyer lemons, all Sepp Holzer edible lupines, and most of the European Arbequina olives disappeared, plus autumn olives, dwarf sour cherries, and various apples.
Someone out there with Danish Heritage was interested in the combo apple, Belle de Boskoop /Triumph de Boskoop. If you know who you are, let me know and I will set it aside.

Gord and Ann


Fall Farm Gates Sales of Perennial Edible Plants

Wow, that summer went FAST.  Lots has been going on (as usual) on the Eco-Sense homestead.  Our first open house of the fall season for sales of PERENNIAL EDIBLE PLANTS is on SATURDAY Sept 6th from 10am-2pm.  


3295 Compton Road in the East Highlands.  If you are able bodied, please park at the bottom of our driveway and enjoy the walk up.  If you think you might buy some plants there is room to park up top.  Please leave dogs at home as we have chickens and ducks about.  We do not give formal tours during the plants sales open houses, but please feel free to explore our gardens and look at the house from the outside. Here is the list of plants we have in stock with more coming next week.  Click for Plant List  We also have eggs for sale.

Other items to note:

* Special Eco-Sense news coming next week…for now, it’s a secret.  Stay Tuned.

* The EcoHut is almost complete.  Currently, we are using it for the office for the perennial plant business.  If you are fascinated and inspired by tiny homes (as we are) you will love this small off-the-grid mini home.

Inside the Eco-Hut with archway into sleeping nook.

Inside the Eco-Hut with archway into sleeping nook.

* We are thinking about what it would mean to go completely local with our food…100%.  Anyone else have these thoughts?

DSC01390* Roof top solar real estate:  We are now growing food on our solar roof between the solar PV and the solar thermal.  We have squash, watermelons, chard, tomatoes, tomatillos, kale, lambs quarters, etc up there.

Our cob oven and cob benches have been repaired and they look fantastic!

Our cob oven and cob benches have been repaired and they look fantastic!

* We’ve been busy fermenting food and beverages.  Gord’s been making beer and wine, and Ann has been brewing ginger beer…here’s the recipe:

  • 1 gal jug that fits cork with air lock
  • Dissolve 2 1/4 cups of sugar in hot or warm water in the jug. If you are worried about sterility use boiling water…but don’t add yeast until it cools. (If you are using chlorinated city water you should boil the water)
  • Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Add 4 tsp powdered ginger (or fresh grated)
  • When water has cooled to warm, add half package of champagne yeast
    swirl/shake to dissolve everything
  • Top up 1 gal jug leaving a bit of air at the top
  • Put air lock on
  • Gently shake gal jar every 3 days or so (remove air lock and put proper cap on). 
  • After about 10-20 days or so taste a tiny bit…if still quite sweet let it just sit for a while longer. If it has used up all it’s sugar, add a bit more just to allow the carbonation…(see next step). 
  • When most of the sweetness is gone, decant into flip top glass jars (or plastic with tight lids). VERY IMPORTANT to flip the cap gently EVERY day so that glass jar doesn’t explode. For plastic jugs just vent daily when the jug gets hard. 
  • When you think it’s done and used up most of the sugar put in fridge rather than let the air pressure out to hold in the carbonation…keeping it cool will stop the yeast. The more sugar is used up, the higher the alcohol content.
  • Leave the sludge in the bottom of the jar and have another go at it…add sugar, add lemon, add ginger and no need to add more yeast. It worked for me.
  • I bet one could make a similar beverage with mint instead of ginger.DSC01440



3 Notices: Two-day course, Perennial Plants, Anti-Spam

Hi Everyone, Have you ever wanted to post this ad on Used Victoria?
Free to a good home, one husband, slightly used, somewhat self grooming, almost house trained. Has a good understanding of plants and mechanical systems, but a poor understanding of complex (female) systems.   Does not multi-task very well.  He will work for food, and is highly motivated by beer.   If you already have one of these, I have empathy, sorry not open to trade.

DSCN3641Here is a brilliant idea I came up with and it’s even better than husband recycling…  train your husband to listen to and understand mother nature and to do what you say.  This training can occur either through husband daycare, slyly called “Permaculture Systems In Action” where Solara (of Hatchet and Seed)  and myself (Ann) will train your husbands how to understand integrated systems, using ours as examples, or  better yet come yourself and see how we train these stubborn handsome hard working creatures to work with and understand our complex systems… using permaculture design principles applied to plants, rain water, grey water, composting, solar, soil, animal and other systems to drive the point home… that nothing is separate.      Bring your husband – leash is required, must be muzzled and fragrance free.

(Notes on above:  Could be role reversed and gender neutral…just insert appropriate pronouns and descriptions.  Can anyone guess who wrote this?  Ok, for a more serious take, see short update below)

Hello,  Here are three notices from Eco-Sense.

2dayposter1.  Next weekend (July 12th and 13th), we are offering a 2-day course:  Permaculture Systems in Action: A 2-Day Introduction to Permaculture Design.  In this course, we’ll introduce the concepts and then show you many examples of what it can look like.  You will be immersed in what it is like to live in a system where everything is connected, whether it is plant, animal (including humans), water, energy, social, food, financial, solar or building systems… you’ll see it all.  Two Gardens and four instructors in partnership with Hatchet & Seed.  Check out this link to learn the details and register.  https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/permaculture-systems-in-action-a-2-day-introduction-to-permaculture-design-tickets-11818781293

Tour group in front of Eco-Hut (office for farm business)

Tour group in front of Eco-Hut (office for farm business)

Eco-Sense Farm Gate Sales for Perennial Plants.  First spring season was an incredible success…on so many levels.  We really enjoyed meeting so many new faces and connecting with old friends.  Some people came to buy plants or eggs and some just to say hi and walk around the gardens.  It was all good and our farm business looks to be financially and socially viable while meeting our needs to share and connect with people learning about adapting to our changing climate.  If you wish to buy plants over the summer please send us an email (gord@eco-sense.ca) to set up a time.  Our next farm gate open house for perennial edible plants will be Saturday Sept 6, 2014 from 10am – 2pm.  Also, we are looking for 2 gallon or bigger pots.  If you would like to recycle your pots with us please send us an email.  As a thank you, we can offer you a very nice Oca plant.  We call this tubers for tubs.

3.  Anti Spam legislation.  Our first email regarding this new law has resulted in 40% of the people on our list giving permission.  This is exceptionally high for one email.  Wow.  We sure feel appreciated with all your kind messages too.  This email today is the last bulk email to our full list and your last chance to let us know you wish to continue getting emails from us.  So, if you haven’t sent us your consenting email please do so here:  Express Consent – click here and press send  If this doesn’t work for you just send us an email saying you give your consent for Eco-Sense to send you emails.
That’s all.  Thanks!  Ann and Gord10256798_695439347166001_7225618944550495375_n

Eco-Sense and the new Anti Spam Laws

The time as come to address the new CASL (Canadian Anti Spam Legislation) – which we highly suspect is geared towards silencing those whom the government takes the most issue with… as its implementation so nicely coincides on the same day as the charitable organization tax filing deadline. But do not despair… just remember the age old saying, and answer to an age old question – “If the government implements poor legislation to silence voices if a forest is cut down, does Eco-Sense still exist?”   Why yes.

On a positive note, if you appreciate the emails received inclusive of rants and raves, info on tours, plants, open houses, and goofy stories of the challenges of a family that lives in a mud house and shits in a bucket, here is your opportunity to say “Please send me emails of comedic informative inspiration!”

New Spam Laws – what we need to do

We need to address this interesting piece of legislation that will affect virtually everyone who sends or receives email from businesses, non profits, or charitable organizations in Canada.

Please take a quick momentout of your day to help Eco-Sense’s  efforts to become CASL (Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation) compliant.  Would each of you please be so kind to provide your express consent for us to continue sending notices that may include news and rants, tour and workshop updates, plant profile information, and special event notices. Two simple options:

Option 1
Express Consent – click here and type “I give consent to receive emails from Eco-Sense” in the subject.

Option 2
A simple cut and paste reply to this email  ( ann@eco-sense.ca ) stating:
I give express consent to receive electronic emails from Eco-Sense.   

Thanks,  Gord and Ann


Chinese Dogwood – Cornus kousa chinensis

Only two more open houses until we close for the summer break.  We will still be open by appointment during the summer and will start up again this fall.  Our farm plant business has been very successful on so many levels.  We have met such interesting people, had great conversations, and opened our gardens and the Eco-Sense homestead for people to just come and see, explore, meet others, hug chickens, and be inspired.  We’ve also sold enough plants to make it all work.  A few great jobs for Gord have also come from this such as a prefabbed insulated bear proof chicken coop.

Thank you everyone.

When:  Saturday June 21st and June 28th from 10am – 2pm

Where: 3295 Compton Road, East Highlands, near Victoria, BC


Cornus kousa chinensis

Why Chinese dogwood?

Cornus kousa fruit

Cornus kousa fruit

Should I use words or pictures? A beautiful ornamental noted for flowers and fall colour, and in our case the variety ‘Julian’ for it’s large fruit.   A luxury… perhaps, but adding beauty is not a sin, and we can at least claim strong reasoned support for our choice because it is ‘edible’.

Cornus kousa flowers

Cornus kousa flowers

The fruit are large, and ripen between August and October and are showy as you can see. They hang gracefully on long stalks up to 2 inches long and may last from several weeks to almost two months.   Hardy to zone 5 (-20C), and the flowers are hermaphrodite thus self fertile. But then even because it is self fertile, who would want to have just one?


A small tree with a showy bloom

A small tree with a showy bloom

Chinese dogwoods are an adaptable easy to grow shrub handling partial shade, dappled light, to full sun, though with our site due to the intense heat we have moved ours to dappled shade as the full sun curls the leaves more when they are young. They can handle acid to alkaline soils, prefer moist but well drained (as most other plants). They start out slow and pick up their rate of growth as they age though are not considered vigorous in their shoot creation and make a good framework on their own so they require little to no pruning;  if you are wanting to adjust a little, then light pruning in late winter or early spring is the time.   Mature height for ‘Julian’ is 12-20 feet.   Propagation can be accomplished via hardwood cuttings (mature wood of the current year with a heal).  We soak all our cuttings in willow water to aid rooting (see notes below).


Edible raw ore cooked, they are sweet and juicy, a little seedy, and the pulp is creamy and custard like. Young leaves can be steamed as well, though we have not eaten any.

Willow Water for rooting hormone

We have been documenting  the rooting of cuttings using gel hormones, IBA 0.04% powder, IBA 0.08% powder and our homemade willow water.  The willow water wins consistently in doing the job.   We make our willow water using young green spring shoots from any willow, as they have the highest concentrations in them.  I strip the leaves, and chop them into 1/4 inch lengths, place  1/2 cup of them in a jar and pour boiling water over them.   I let soak for 24hrs to pull out the hormone and salicylic acid… then I soak new cuttings in there for 12 hours before placing in my rooting medium.

OCA – a very special Andean Potato

Feature Plant:  Oxalis tuberosa (OCA)

Oca is a small tuber that is a staple crop of the Inca.  They have literally thousands of types of these small potatoes…one for every micro climate in the Andean mountains.  Preserving genetic and biological diversity is essential for a changing climate.  Here is a BBC documentary on OCA  and 3000 other nutritious tubers grown in the Andes for a more resilient and nutritious food source.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSHrNwQle1E

Oca.  Lemony mini potatoes

Oca. Lemony mini potatoes

We think that every garden should grow a patch of OCA, our favourite spud.  We have OCA available for $12 a pot.  Not too late to get into the ground for a fall crop to eat.  One plant should produce enough for one meal or leave them in the ground to expand your tuber plot for many future meals.   Makes excellent ground cover.
OPEN House for perennial plants sales
Saturday June 14 from 10am – 2pm.  

3295 Compton road, East Highlands (near Victoria, BC).  We have OCA and LOTS more.  Here is our plant list.  Prices include GST.  We accept cash or cheque.  We also have two Good King Henry available (not on our list)…productive perennial spinach.

Oca is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft).

It is hardy to zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects.

Beautiful ground cover looks clover like

Beautiful ground cover looks clover like


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the full shade. It prefers moist soil.

Tubers – raw or cooked. An acid lemon flavour when first harvested, if left out in the sun the tubers turn sweet, so sweet in some varieties that they are said to resemble dried figs and are sold as fruits in local markets in S. America. The cooked root is delicious whether in its sweet or acid state, it can be boiled, baked etc in similar ways to potatoes. The tubers tend to be rather smaller than potatoes, with good sized specimens reaching 8cm or more in length. The slightly waxy skin makes cleaning them very easy. They contain about 70 – 80% moisture, 11 – 22% carbohydrate, 1% fat, 1% fibre and 1% ash. The carbohydrate is rich in sugar and easy to digest.

peruvian Oca (Oxalis tuberosa)