Here’s how to divide your yakon, and winter them over in the greenhouse.
#After digging, sever the stem 20cm above the rhizomes (the knobbly bits which grow above the edible tubers).
#Gently break the rhizomes apart (or slice them with a sharp knife if necessary. (For best results each rhizome should weigh no less than 80-120 grams.)
#Dust the broken/cut surfaces with copper powder.
#Half fill large bags or pots with compost. Place the rhizome on top and cover with more compost. Add a mulch (such as sawdust) to suppress weeds.
#Store the bagged rhizomes in the greenhouse (or in a sheltered spot where frost will not reach).
#The rhizomes will send up new shoots and leaves. After all danger of frost is past, plant the new yakon into the garden.
Top tip: Yakon sweeten 2-3 weeks after harvest so don’t be disappointed if your freshly dug tubers taste bland.
DO YOU GROW YACON?
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!
… give them all the phosphorus you can lay hands on – plus loads of seaweed. Guano, compost and bone meal are all natural sources of phosphorus but be careful where your guano comes from – some is taken from bat caves, and the excavation destroys the bats’ homes.
Can yacon really be grown successfully this far south?
You’d better believe it!
Two plants produced a total of 11 kilos of tubers (and in an appalling summer)!!
The largest tuber weighed 654 grams!
We think we’re growing the the world’s most southerly yacon!
Do you agree?
I’ve just cleaned out the filing cabinet and I’m using the paper
to make logs for the fire.
Here’s how to do it:
Open both ends of a tin can.
Tightly roll your waste paper to create a roll which
will fit snugly into the tin.
Push the roll through the openings in the tin.
Burn the fire logs at a ratio of 1/3 fire log to 2/3
regular firewood. If the paper is printed with plant-based materials
(and most is nowadays), compost the ash.
I feel like I’ve just entered a new era in ‘gardening’.
This delicious tempeh was cultured from Rhizopus microporus var. oligosporus
(tempeh spores) which I grew and harvested myself.
The broadbeans are from our own garden.