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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Come again soon – we have made great progress on the project and phase one is almost complete.
Sarah the Gardener : o )