Apios, Apios americana

A scientist asked if I could send him some old pea cultivars. He is interested in hardy crops that will adapt to climate change. I sent what I could get hold on to him. As thanks, he sent some clones of apios, and asked me to follow them some years and report back. When I reported back last year, he sent several more clones.

Now I’m learning to grow apios. First lessons included.

– If they dry too much on the surface, they go dormant. It can take a whole year for them to break the dormancy. Therefore, they must be kept slightly moist in plastic bags if they are to be sent by mail.

– They can withstand frost, far more than I expect in a harsh winter here.

– They develop edible tubers like huge pearls on a string, and the roots are very long. I have not yet dared to put them into the ground, but grow them in tubs. I was recommended 40ltr. (10,5 gallons, US) tubs as appropriate size, and it has worked fine. Had I carelessly put them in a row in the vegetable garden, I would now, two years later, not be able to keep track of the clones.

The set-up with 40 liter (10.5 US gallon) tubs

First year harvest didn’t impress.

I also learned that Apios are slow food. They must grow for several years before the harvest is reasonable. There’s something to improve, by selective breeding for more productive clones, and a few scientist work on this in USA.
I have yet to see them bloom. No flowers – no seeds – no chance to improve anything. Maybe if I sacrifice space in the greenhouse, I could harvest seeds and start breeding Apios.
For now I’m grateful being able to grow some.

Some of the clones increased surprisingly much in second season

Now I have taken interests in Apios, I have acquired a clone from a danish seed saver who have grown it for a decade I think. It derived from Chiltern Seeds originally. It is shown in the first image in this post. I feel I need it for comparison.

A few good qualities I just have to mention:

– Tubers of Apios contains as much protein as dry beans, and of same good quality.

– Apios can be harvested throughout the year, if frost doesn’t prevent digging in the ground.

There are several pictures of individual clones on my photo page on Flickr:

PS. The scientist had my short report a few weeks ago. Quite banal, mainly a link to the photos I took (link above). In the text of the pictures I have inserted clone no. and weight, in case it is not clear enough on all photos. In response, he sent a new clone he thinks we can benefit from testing in Scandinvia.