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Video: Chufa - Earthen Almonds
Growing ground almonds
I heard about chufu for a long time, but somehow this plant did not cause me much interest. Now I understand that in vain. Last year, a friend of the summer resident, a lover of everything unusual, persuaded me to plant a chufa and gave me half a glass of nodules. From that day on, my acquaintance with this amazingly useful plant began.
This plant, which is not yet widespread, has many other names. So the Arabs call it sweet root, in North Africa - Zulu nut, and in North America - reed nut, Germans and Italians - ground almonds, and in Portugal and Brazil - tuberous grass. In Russia, it is called the common brood, the wintering house, the walnut rump or chufa, as in Spain. Recently, the American term "tiger nut" has been increasingly used. The scientific name of the chufa is Cyperus esculentus L. Latin esculentus means edible and refers to tubers.
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Features of culture
Chufa belongs to the sedge family. In the family of sedge plants, there is a genus of herbaceous plants called "Syt" (Cyperus). The well-known papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) belongs to the genus, which the ancient Egyptians used to make the material of the same name for writing and building boats.
In the rooms and greenhouses, Cyperus alternifolius, a native of Madagascar, is grown. Edible feed (Cyperus esculentus) is cultivated as a food plant. This genus includes more than 400 species that grow in the tropics, subtropics, and less often in the temperate zones.
Chufa is a perennial herb (grown in culture as an annual) up to 1 meter high. Leaves are sessile, linear, sagittate and lanceolate, green, without edge. Triangular herbaceous stems grow from tubers that form from the apical bud of an underground shoot. From the lateral buds, short underground shoots of the following order develop. The root is powerful, the rhizomes are thin with bulges at the ends in the form of tubers.
The flowers are small, inconspicuous, bisexual, collected in an umbellate inflorescence, pollinated by the wind. In temperate latitudes, chufa grows normally and forms nodules in the first year, but does not bloom. One plant during the growing season forms up to 250 bunches of leaves and up to 1000 edible yellowish-brown tubers 1-3 cm long, ovoid or oval with white pulp. In the dried state, the nodules are wrinkled. On the roots of the chufa there are bacteria that can grow due to an insignificant amount of nitrogen. They can even fix atmospheric nitrogen.
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Origin of culture
The homeland of the chufa is the Mediterranean and North Africa. Chufa has been known to man since the time of Ancient Egypt; archaeologists have found vessels with chufa in the tombs of the pharaohs of the 2nd-3rd millennia BC. e. This plant is mentioned in the writings of Herodotus and Pliny. From historical chronicles it is known that in the troops of Alexander the Great, the chufa was included in the obligatory diet of soldiers. In Russia, the chufa appeared at the end of the 18th century under the name of the winter house. At the Imperial Academy of Sciences in 1805, an article was published by a statesman, one of the first Russian foresters, secretary and president of the Free Economic Society A.A. Nartova "Description of earthen almonds and experience on the cultivation of onago in St. Petersburg."
In the thirties of the twentieth century, on the initiative of academician N.I. Vavilov, 16 tons of elite nodules were purchased from various countries. Then experimental plantations were established throughout the country. The most valuable were seeds from Spain and Holland. In the USSR, chufa was included in the state agricultural program, but the "corn revolution" prevented the promotion of this crop.
In African countries, chufu is most cultivated in Egypt, Mali, Nigeria, Cote D-Voire and Ghana. For the local population, chufa is superior to other crops in importance as a source of protein in the diet. It is also grown in India and Sudan. In Turkey, this crop is planted mainly in hunting farms in small areas to attract wild turkeys and wild boars. In the republics of the former USSR and current sovereign states, research has been carried out on agricultural technology for growing chufa for many years. Experimental crops were carried out in the Transcaucasia and the Volga region.
As it turned out later, the chufa can grow in the Non-Black Earth Region of Russia. In the late 80s and early 90s in Ukraine in the NBS them. N.N. Grishko created cultivars Culinary and Confectionery, and in 2007 - cultivar Pharaoh. In addition, the Novinka variety was introduced at the Institute of Oilseeds in 2006. Chufu is also grown here, in Kazakhstan, in agricultural regions.
Knowing that the chufa is a thermophilic plant, I planted it in May, when the soil warmed up to 15 degrees Celsius. Before planting, the nodules were soaked for three days in warm water, which I changed every day so that the nodules did not sour.
During this time, they swell and therefore germinate faster when sown. I prepared a small bed and planted 2-3 nodules in holes to a depth of 5-6 cm. The distance between plantings was 20-30 cm. The weather melted warm, and seedlings appeared on the 7-10th day. The chufa plant very quickly forms a dense bush of narrow long leaves, which look very attractive in the garden.
Under the ground, a fibrous root is formed, on which, about a month after planting at a depth of 10-15 cm, nodules are formed. The growing season of the plant is approximately 6 months. Chufa is an unpretentious plant and does not require special care, but does not like waterlogging, so if it rains often, you can not water it. With excessive watering, a lot of grass and few nodules grow. If the soil is clay, the planting must be well loosened. I did not notice any diseases or pests on this plant, but I think that the tubers can damage bears and wireworms.
When the leaves begin to dry out and turn yellow, you can dig out the nodules. Dig it out carefully. Use a pitchfork to dig in a bush and shake off the nodules on a sieve with cells up to 5 mm, the earth will sift, and clean nodules will remain on the sieve. To preserve the crop, the nodules must be washed and dried. In this form, they do not lose their viability for several years. Many people write that no fertilizers are needed to grow chufa, but I noticed that on those bushes that I fertilized with a mullein twice a season, the yield was higher. The general care is reduced to loosening, weeding and timely watering. In the northern regions, chufu can be grown by the seedling method. She tolerates transplantation well, even as an adult. You can grow chufu at home on the windowsill or on the balcony in the summer.
In the food industry, chufu is used as a substitute for sweet almonds. Its tubers contain 20-27% fat, 15-20% sucrose, 25-30% starchy substances, 8-9% proteins, microelements. They can be eaten raw and fried, and refried nodules are an excellent substitute for coffee. In Spain, almond milk (orshad) is prepared from chufa. Chufa oil is light yellow in color with the smell of almonds and contains oleic acid.
This oil is extracted and used for food. At confectionery factories, chufu is added to chocolate, cocoa, sweets, cakes, and halva is made from it. According to experts, dishes prepared from this culture are well absorbed by the body. Chufa, in terms of the calorie content of the crop per unit area, surpasses all our food crops, even the most high-calorie of them - peanuts almost three times.
Chufu is also used in industry. She goes to the production of the highest grades of toilet soaps and shampoos. Chufa leaves are used for making ropes (ropes), paper, insulating material, for bedding and phyto-fuel. In agriculture, the aboveground part of the plant is used for feed for domestic animals, because in terms of nutritional value, it is not inferior to cereal grasses. Horses love hay. In some countries, poultry and rabbits are fed with chopped peanut nodules. It is also used in needlework. Craftsmen weave baskets from chufa, make souvenirs.
In addition, the peanut is an excellent ornamental plant that can decorate any lawn and lawn, as its seedlings form a solid green carpet.
Chufa is well known to fans of fishing under the name "tiger nut". It is considered one of the best lures for carp fishing. Carp loves aromatic and crunchy chufa nodules. Anglers call the chufu super bait for carp fish.
This culture has found application in medicine. Chufa energizes, strengthens the immune system, improves mood, improves brain function and helps to increase efficiency. Although there is no information in the available literature on the use of extracts of the plant Cyperus esculentus L. in medicine, I managed to find two Russian patents for inventions in this area.
One of them describes the adaptogenic properties of the powder of the tubers of the plant Cyperus esculentus L., used in a daily dose of 600 mg / kg before meals in three doses. A number of studies prove that chufa preparations increase the performance of animals and humans and protect them when exposed to emotional and physical adverse environmental factors.
The second invention relates to novel antidiabetic agents. An antidiabetic agent is proposed, which is a dry extract of edible tubers.
American scientists have conducted research on various extracts of chufa. They were evaluated for antibacterial activity against a number of human pathogens, such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, pneumonia and others. These extracts have shown high activity against pathogenic microorganisms.
In folk medicine, a 5% tincture on vodka of nodules and chufa leaves is believed to be close to ginseng in action. Tea from leaves and raw nuts remove radionuclides from the body. Dried herb stuffed pillows help with restless sleep. A decoction of rhizomes mixed with red peony root is drunk with urethritis. For toothaches, rinse your mouth with a decoction of rhizomes, rub the gums with a powder from them.
In traditional Chinese medicine, rhizomes are most commonly used. They are used as a stimulant, tonic, gastric, sedative and astringent. Prescribed for diarrhea, colds, postpartum complications, abscesses, abscesses, panaritiums. Magicians claim that evil spirits do not like chufu. Peace is felt where the peanut grows. If you store the chufa nut at home or in the office, then all the dark energy will be replaced by the light one and things will go smoothly.
Tatyana Lybina, gardener, Zhezkazgan, Republic of Kazakhstan Photo by the author