AN UGLY-LOOKING Kiwi customer has proved to be a surprise Thompson & Morgan best seller.
Oca is a knobbly root vegetable that looks a bit like an artichoke but fortunately they don’t have the same after effects.
The tubers have a tangy lemon taste, which becomes deliciously nuttier when cooked.
The red-skinned variety available from T&M have a crisp, pale orange or creamy-coloured flesh — fans of 'eating raw’ can simply wash and slice their oca tubers into salads or crunch them as a tasty and wholesome snack.
Oca becomes more starchy when cooked and can be enjoyed similarly to potatoes — boiled, baked, mashed or fried — while the shoots and the attractive shamrock-shaped leaves can be added to salads for a tasty citrusy tang.
Oca — also known as New Zealand yam (it is grown commercially in New Zealand, hence its alternative name) — is cultivated extensively in the Andes where it is second only to the potato in terms of the most widely grown root vegetable. 
T&M’s trials showed the perennial oca plant performed well in the UK climate and did not suffer from blight or any noticeable pests.
Oca is known to tolerate poor soils and different climatic conditions, which makes it ideal for any British kitchen garden.
Plants are attractive too, so gardeners can also cultivate their oca in containers on the patio or decking area.
The nutritional and health-promoting benefits of oca make it well worth growing.
Oca is available from Thompson & Morgan’s website at half price.