The hidden horror in my garden.
I found these plastics in the top 10 cm of just 5 square metres of my garden. They include fragments of weed matting, fruit labels, the polypropylene netting of the tea bags I wrongly assumed were biodegradable, tiny pieces of fabric, and random shreds of wrapping.
Research has already shown microbeads to be present in worm casts, and that polystyrene beads can be taken up by nematodes. The very same worms that help break up the soil and move nutrients around in the garden are also moving microplastics deeper into the soil.
Unless I – unless we all – take greater care and stop bringing plastics (in any form) onto our properties, our gardens may one day be in as much trouble as our oceans.
SPREAD THE WORD!
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!
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 am so excited to have discovered another root crop which will grow in my part of the world! Ulluco (pronounced OO-Yoo-Koo) are every bit as delicious as yams and much more vibrant in colour. Can’t wait to plant them.
The roadside garden has been well patronised all summer. One morning, when I went to my mail box, I found these dear little ‘thank you’ gifts from folk who’d enjoyed harvesting the vegetables.
I like it when the ‘Free to Harvest’ sign on the roadside garden brings people to our home. This morning, before we were even out of bed, Yashoda Dulal Das (John Herbison), who is on a year long journey with his brother, Brendon, in a cart pulled by their horse, Sampson, called to ask for water and a charge on his mobile phone. He said anyone who had painted on a roadside sign: ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks’ and was offering free vegetables, could be trusted to give water. So, on this peaceful Papatowai morning, while those of many faiths around the world were busy fighting each other, Hare Krishna met Christian and left with some good vegetables.