It would seem you can’t grow it all.

But that’s not going to stop me trying.

Last week I harvested my Yams (Oxalis tuberosa) and Kumara (sweet potato) and made a video about it.  I knew from experience they weren’t going to be huge.  The problem with the sweet potato is it is in a container.  Containers are very similar to pot plants.  I don’t do well with pot plants.  Actually to be honest ‘I don’t do well’ should be read as ‘I kill pot plants.’  My main argument is there isn’t anywhere inside suitable to put them.  The truth is I forget they are there and fail to keep them hydrated and they invariably die.  Plants out in the garden in containers often suffer the same fate, I just forget.

Kumara Sweet Potato
They don’t look so bad when you take the photo up close … really close!

But I need to grow kumara in containers because our soil is so soggy at the time of harvest that it was just too heart-breaking to harvest bountiful buckets of mush.  So after harvesting some pretty noodly looking sweet potato last week I have given myself a ‘must try harder next year’ chat.  From what I understand the soil needs to be light, but rich in organic matter.  I have also seen many instructions requiring the slip to be planted in a U shape and even more beneficially if the tip is facing east.  This could be my problem – I’ve just been poking them in.

Maybe it could be that the soil in the container gets depleted of nutrients as it attempts to grow exponentially and I should be less slap dash in my feeding regime.   They also need to be in a warm and sunny spot, so I may need to relocate them.  Watch this space – this time next year I will be proudly displaying large specimens and everyone will go “wow!”

Yams Oca  Oxalis tuberosa
Yams Yummo. I like to call them ‘old mans toes’, to put the kids off them so I can have more for myself!

Yams on the other hand… well the majority of my harvest were the size of marbles and I do really wonder at why I bother, especially when the seed yams had been specifically chosen for their ginormous size.  But you can’t beat roast yam, with its sweet taste and squishy texture and you don’t need to peel them.

Could lupin be the answer to my pitiful yam harvest?
Could lupin be the answer to my pitiful yam harvest?

They need a long growing season and I think I can offer them that – I did have zucchini in the garden for 8 months.  They also like a high nitrogen soil, so a lupin cover crop between harvest and starting again is a good idea.  I have also discovered they should be earthed up like spuds. Now I didn’t know that and had been growing them flat.  This could be my problem, but I doubt it. While they don’t like frost, they aren’t too keen on excessive heat too.  So the cooler your summer, the better they’ll grow – so long as you can give them long enough between the last frost and the first one. I think I shall declare this the reason for my pitiful harvest – our summers are just too lovely and this is out of my control.  It is not my fault.

It can't be winter...  I still have raspberries
It can’t be winter… I still have raspberries

Now I can proudly show off my yams as the best I can grow, all things considered.  Although there will always be the hope that next year’s yams will be bigger.

I’m the kind of gardener that will plant now and figure things out as I go.  There is so much to learn with gardening, and you never stop learning, and if I was to wait until I knew what I was doing, I’d never grow anything.

The project is coming along
The project is coming along nicely. We are even using the fancy tools!

Come again soon – we have made great progress on the project and phase one is almost complete.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

12 thoughts on “It would seem you can’t grow it all.

  1. Lovely yams so early in the season. Ours are grown in Manawatu and thrive on frosts the tops die off and we dig them throughout the winter until august when we need to prepare the ground for the next crop. It’s impossible to get everyone! We spend the spring rounding up the strays and putting them in line.

    1. Thanks Faye for the tip. I think next time I will leave them in longer. Although from what I can remember of my time in Palmerston North that you have the added advantage of much colder winters! Enjoy your Yams.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. I also harvested noodly sweet potatoes last year! 🙁 But the yams are very interesting and pretty! I’ll have to find out more.

    1. Hi Angie. Sometimes we have to look at our noodly crops and see them as an opportunity to learn and make it better next time. Yams are fab. I hope you try them.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. You really peaked my interest in the oca(yam). I checked for seeds they are expensive here but I can plant sweet potatoes next year. I will plant them in grow bags. I always learn new things watching garden video. Thank you!
    I look forward seeing what you project is. Gene

    1. Hi Gene. I do hope you try yams. The best part is – if you manage to grow them well it would be a once only investment as you can replant them…. well you may not even need to do that… they are a tad invasive (but not impossible to get rid of). Plant them somewhere you don’t mind them being as they can come back if you don’t harvest them all.
      All the best with your sweet potatoes.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. Hey Sarah .. great post. I had a lousy year with my spuds. Very disappointing .. I suspect I planted them too late. I haven’t grown yams might give them a go. Wonderful pics, love the raspberry image 🙂

    1. Hi Julie. Gosh sorry I took so long replying to this comment. I have had the busiest time lately and only just seem to be emerging from it… for now.
      You should definitely try yams but they do like the cold, but still worth a go.
      I don’t think it is warm enough for the raspberries – they are still flowering, but don’t come to much. I think I should just chop them back for the winter.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

Leave a Reply