Achira (Canna edulis) 3 Tubers
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-An exceptionally productive selection, the main photo is after one growing season in zone 6b. These are clones of the most productive canna selection I have come across. Originally released by the now-closed nursery Oregon Exotics.
GROWING ZONE: Winter hardy to zones 7(possibly only 8)-12, especially if mulched during winter. If growing in colder zones, the tubers can simply be harvested in fall and stored somewhere protected from cold and then replanted in spring.
UPDATE: In the spring of 2023 I was delighted to discover some of these plants successfully overwintered outdoors at our farm in zone 6b. Other years they did not. They always successfully overwinter in our unheated hoop house.
STORAGE & PLANTING: The tubers can be planted immediately for spring germination in areas where they can survive winter outdoors. Alternatively, they can be covered in dry peat moss or dry sand and stored in a fridge or shelter where they will be protected from weather extremes until ready to be planted. I store them in totes in an insulated inner shop of my barn. They can then be planted directly in spring or started in pots and then transplanted.
GROWING TIPS: They thrive best with lots of woodchip mulch and adequate moisture. When working with a new species, I always recommend folks try planting them in multiple different locations to see what works best for them in their climate and context.
HARVEST: This selection forms tubers right on the soil surface. It is the easiest tuber crop I have ever harvested and requires little soil disturbance.
BIOMASS: They generate an impressive amount of biomass. I utilize them as a herbaceous chop and drop mulch crop.
COOKING: Due to inulin content proper cooking is vital. I have successfully made these delicious by slow cooking in a crock pot for 24 hours. This is the same strategy I employ with Jerusalem Artichokes. As I understand after a long enough cooking time the inulin converts into simple sugars. The result is a taste and texture comparable to a mild sweet potato.
FLOUR: Canna is used to make flour out of the starch. It has large starch particles that can easily be extracted with low-tech methods to make flour.