Hartley Magazine

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Can I grow Tiger Nuts in the UK?

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Harvest the tiger nuts fresh from the compost

Yes you can, they are easy to grow, something a little different and a great way to get the kids interested in gardening.

Far from being a new super food, tiger nuts were actually a mainstay in the war and post war era, a slightly sweet treat that offered something a little different for the palette.

They were once popular in the 50’s era of post war rationing and were even seen as a treat for children, bought at the sweet shop. But Like many ‘war foods’ that were associated with the ‘Hunger Winter’ that followed and leaner, harder times, they fell out of fashion, but this year Tiger Nuts are making a comeback courtesy of Dobies and Rob Smith’s Heritage Range.

No nuts included

Fortunately for those with nut allergies, these are one nut you can grow, eat and enjoy because despite the name, they are not nuts at all, but underground tubers that are actually formed by a grass, more commonly known as Tiger Nuts, Yellow Nutsedge, or botanically as Cyperus esculentus. So it’s really a sedge and as an easy to grow grass it’s actually an ideal and interesting crop to grow.

This season you can buy them as plug plants and if you’ve got a greenhouse you could start them off under glass to give them a head start. A cool greenhouse is ideal, as they will stand temperatures down to about -5C.

Don’t let them dry out though, they grow fast, will tolerate some waterlogging and as the plants grow they will form masses of sweet tubers underground.

Image 1 - Feb 17
Tiger nuts have a taste between almond and coconut

With a flavour somewhere between almond and coconut and a bit bigger than a peanut, these fascinating mouth sized bites of sugary flavour are a great plant to grow with the kids, a real greenhouse talking point and apparently they are classed as a super food too!

Healthy option

Full of fibre and rich in Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Potassium and Magnesium they are also a natural source of pre-biotics which enhance the healthy gut flora in the intestines and are essential for the digestive system. Thye are also rich in vitamin E and contain a hard to digest starch so you feel fuller for longer. Low in calories, free from Gluten and of course not nuts at all, tiger nuts are the must grow plant for 2017.

How to grow

Plant them up in large tubs of quality organic compost in the greenhouse giving them space to grow. Keep them watered and feed with a seaweed feed. You can move the pots outside as the plants develop and the weather warms and literally keep them fed and watered to the first frosts of autumn. That’s the right time to harvest your ‘nut’ bounty. Just unearth them from the roots under the plant, you can eat them raw or add them to your daily meals, smoothies, salads or just as a snack. One plant can produce hundreds or even thousands of tiger nuts during one growing season, so there will be plenty to share, experiment with and grow again next year.

They are on my ‘to grow’ list for this year, along with a  few other interesting crops and edibles, so watch this space.

Dobies Tiger Nuts