Get the Low-down on Growing Giant Yummy Yams

Yams are odd creatures – they have their own peculiar set of demands. But growing them is easy when you know what they like.

 Here’s how I do it:

  • When preparing the bed, keep your soil light by digging in plenty of compost.
  • Biff on some seaweed over winter and let it rot down.
  • Hold back on the nitrogen (it only grows tops – and it’s the tubers you want to encourage).
  • Add phosphorus – lots!
  • Source your yams from farmers’ markets, friends, garden centres, Trade Me. Steer clear of supermarket yams as they are often treated to stop them sprouting.
  • Plant in spring as soon as the first frosts are over (yams like a long growing season).
  • Plant only evenly shaped tubers that are no less than 6cm long.
  • Plant in holes about 15cm deep and 15cm apart.
  • Harvest yams after the autumn equinox (late March in NZ – when day and night are of equal length).
  • If you live in a frosty part of the country, harvest a week or two after the frost has deadened the tops thoroughly.
  • Wash and dry the yams and store them, covered, in a cool, dark place (as you would potatoes).

Top Tip: hungry birds like to harvest yams, too. As soon as the tops die off, cover the garden bed with a net to keep the birds from pecking the yams before you harvest them.

Did you know: 

Yams come in different colours – yellow, pink, and orange. Plant a variety.

Yams are self-mulching because the tops grow rapidly to cover the ground.

If you have any yam-growing tips, or questions, please leave a comment & I’ll get back to you pronto!






4 responses to “Get the Low-down on Growing Giant Yummy Yams

  1. Amazing photo!!! Long on them could be a healthy massage.

  2. Hi Diana what do you use to add phosphorus to the soil ?

    • Hi, Shona – good to hear from you! Our phosphate came from some ancient guano we were given (from the shearing shed of a local person whose father must have had it stored for decades!). Other (organic) sources of phosphorus include rock dust, bone meal and fish bone meal. Compost also contains a healthy dose.

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