We will grow yakon
For Russia, this plant is still unfamiliar, but for many years it has been a familiar vegetable in New Zealand, the USA, Iran, Japan and Korea, countries of Southern Europe, almost native Brazil and other countries. In recent decades, the yakon still conquered the countries of our former republics of Central Asia, Moldova and began to get to the vastness of Ukraine and Russia.
Yakon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) Is a species of perennial herbaceous plants of the Astrovian family.
Useful properties of the yacon
Specialists revealed in it the presence of selenium, chlorogenic and caffeic acids, as well as a number of phenolic compounds, which determine the antioxidant properties of the yacon. Studies have shown that the use of not only root tubers, but also extract from the leaves of the yacon leads to a decrease in blood sugar concentration. This means the possibility of using for medicinal purposes both underground and ground parts of the plant.
However, in the yakon, not the tops, but the roots, or rather, its tubers, are still more valued. Their crisp flesh of white or yellow color is characterized by low calorie content - 100 g contains only 60 kcal. They contain from 2 to 7% protein, represented by high-quality amino acids, only 0.14% fat, vitamin C, potassium, antioxidant phenols, riboflavin, selenium and even a little chlorogenic acid, an effective substance contained in green coffee. And very important information for those who are looking for products useful for weight loss: the yacon contains up to 60% of inulin - a rare polyfructosan, a carbohydrate with a long digestion chain.
Due to the long chain of carbohydrate assimilation, inulin normalizes the level of glucose in the blood and gives the body the opportunity to harmonize the assimilation of the produced insulin in the pancreas. This not only protects against hunger attacks, but also acts as a prophylaxis for diabetes.
Doctors write about the beneficial effects of the icon on intestinal function. “Swelling” in the stomach, the dietary fiber of tubers serves as a favorable environment for the vital activity of the necessary bacteria, while suppressing the growth of pathogenic flora in the gastrointestinal tract, they serve as a kind of natural sorbent that helps to remove part of the load from other cleaning and excretory systems. All this accelerates energy metabolism in cells and makes it more effective.
In a purely practical sense, the ability of an icon to enhance intestinal motility is also important. Especially important is the fact that due to the content in the tubers of a trace element such as selenium, the yakon is called the "elixir of youth." It is able to prevent heart attacks, has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, allowing in old age to maintain clarity of mind, reduces blood cholesterol.
Many people believe that the juiciness, texture and aroma of the yakon is a cross between a fresh apple, watermelon, melon and ordinary potatoes. It is not without reason that one can come across such names of the icon as “earthen apple”, “diet potato” and others. Fans of this culture widely use its tubers in raw, stewed, fried and dried form. Raw, crunchy, sweet tubers in salads are especially good. They are also used for making jam. Stewed, boiled and fried also use young and tender shoots of the yacon.
We consider it important to once again emphasize the most useful properties of the icon: due to the content of natural sugar substitutes, which are easily absorbed by the human body, it is widely used in the treatment of diseases associated with metabolic disorders - diabetes, atherosclerosis, and obesity. It significantly reduces blood sugar and significantly contributes to weight loss, as confirmed by the experiments of reputable experts. However, it is impossible to abuse the yakon tubers or syrup from them, wanting, for example, to quickly get rid of excess weight. So, the recommended daily dose of syrup is only 2 teaspoons per day.
It is also useful to know that the meaty tubers of the yakon are pretty tasteless when harvested. In order for them to acquire a sweet taste, they must be aged in the sun or in a warm place 3-4 days before the formation of wrinkled peels. True, there are recommendations for a longer exposure of tubers to warm air - from 10 to 12 days.
Cultivating an yacon
The birthplace of the yakon (a distant relative of sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke) is the highlands of the Andes of Central and South America. The yakon plant is beautiful, compact, with a one-year culture it has a height of up to 1.2 m, with a perennial one - up to 2 m. Its stem is green, with purple spots in the upper part. The leaves are large, with irregularly serrated edges. On the upper side they are dark green, on the lower side they are lighter. On large veins and petioles of the leaf there is a dense and hard pubescence.
The entire aerial part of the plant can die at a temperature of zero degrees. Underground organs, the yacon forms two types - rhizomes and root tubers. Large rhizomes reach a mass of up to 400-600 g. There are buds on them, giving rise to new plants. Numerous thin roots depart from the rhizomes, which thicken as they grow, acquiring a pear-shaped or fusiform shape. Tubers are grouped in compact bundles of several pieces. In Russia, in open ground, it is recommended to grow yakon in the southern regions, and in the north it is advisable to grow it in sheltered ground.
Propagation of the yacon
Attention!It is impossible to propagate the yakon with root tubers; there are no such buds on them as on potato tubers. When grown in central Russia, no flowers or seeds are formed on the yakon, so the real way to propagate this plant in this strip is to obtain seedlings from buds formed on rhizomes that are best laid for germination in February.
Before this, they are recommended to be disinfected, for example, for 5 minutes in a solution of potassium permanganate so that the fungal microflora does not develop. Then the rhizome is cut into several parts, trying not to damage the kidneys, and laid in flat containers, the bottom of which should be laid out with a moisture-absorbing cloth or filter paper. On top of the container is covered with plastic wrap or glass. From time to time, the containers should be ventilated and the fabric or paper moistened.
Fragments of rhizomes with sprouts that appeared after about 2 weeks are best transplanted into pots with a germs mixture. It can consist, for example, of one part of turf land, two parts of peat and a small amount of complex fertilizer. And after only 8 weeks, the plants will be ready for planting in open ground, however, they should be planted no earlier than the end of the period of a possible return of frost (after June 6-8).
The soil on the bed for the yacon should be deeply loosened. Yakon can be grown on various soils, however, to obtain high yields of juicy and at the same time fragile root tubers, a rich, well-fertilized loose soil is needed. When digging the site for the yakon in the fall (on the bayonet of a shovel), it is recommended to fertilize along the way (per each square meter): 1/3 bucket of rotted manure, 1 tbsp superphosphate and 1 tablespoon potash fertilizer. During spring cultivation, the soil is enriched with ammonium nitrate.
Yakon seedlings are planted according to a 60x60 cm pattern, of course, followed by watering. It is important to consider that when the plants thicken, the yield decreases markedly. Optimum temperature: +18 ° С ... + 30 ° С. Rhizomes are able to withstand short-term small frosts, but the aboveground part dies. The root system penetrates deep into the ground, so the plant can withstand short-lived drought. It is clear that special attention is paid to watering during planting and rooting of seedlings. Moisture deficiency reduces productivity, but at the same time, there should not be excessive moisture. Watering is carried out only with warm water. If the weather is hot, the plants are watered daily. During the growing season, plants are also recommended to be fed, for example, with Kemira station wagon at the rate of 5 g of fertilizer per 1 sq. M.
Yakon in open ground reaches a height of 1.0-1.2 m. Up to 25 root tubers develop on each plant. The total mass of root tubers on one plant of the Russian variety Bios reaches 3 kg. Many gardeners believe that while cultivating the yakon for medicinal purposes, preference should still be given to foreign varieties, which, they believe, are richer in the useful elements contained in them (i.e. they are closer to their original ancestors).
Harvesting should be carried out in early September, before the onset of frost. If the weather allows, then you can clean it in late September - early October. The yield of root tubers may increase by 30-50%. Rhizomes and root tubers are stored separately in boxes or small containers in cellars with high humidity. Tubers are stored for 8-10 months, without losing turgor.
As already noted, the fleshy root tubers of the yakon are rather tasteless during harvesting, however, during storage they acquire a typical sweet taste. This is due to the fact that in the process of growth, fructants accumulate in root crops, which are less sweet in taste than fructose. When the root tubers of the yakon are laid for storage, they begin the process of depolymerization of fructants to fructose, which gives the tubers a sweet taste that resembles that of a pear or melon, and the process goes faster at higher temperatures.
P.S. Many skilled enthusiasts were imbued with respect for this new vegetable for Russians because of its beneficial properties and good productivity. They are increasingly starting to grow yakon in their gardens instead of Jerusalem artichoke. The fact is that Jerusalem artichoke has long been actively used by them in salads. Especially in the spring, when it is used as a prophylaxis for diabetes. It is understandable: people at this time, and even after winter, move little, physical loads on the body are negligible.
So you have to protect yourself from high sugar content. But Jerusalem artichoke is always at hand: dug with a shovel and now they are fresh tubers that wintered well under the snow. Yes, and this plant requires almost no care, it grows and grows, multiplying from the remaining tubers in the ground. Only there are too many troubles with tubers when they have to be peeled before use, due to the numerous growths on them. Another thing is the tubers of the yakon - smooth and quite large.
There is an opinion that the yakon is a vegetable of the 21st century, it is ranked almost as a strategic product of the future, and this cannot but add sympathy to the yakon. However, those who decided to start growing it need to take care of the seedlings now, so that seedlings can grow before the beginning of June. This is not difficult to do, you just need to find the appropriate store near your place of residence. And sellers for the supply of seedlings of the icon this year, judging by advertising on the Internet, are ready. Dare, my friends, and success to you!