Growing yams

Growing yams

yams2
Yams

It feels like nothing much has been happening in the veggie garden. Most of the plants are finished and the cabbages and cauliflowers will be a while away from harvesting (if at all if the caterpillars and slugs have anything to do with it).  I’ve had a few plants in the ground for months – kumara, yams and yacon and now the yams are finally ready (just).  I planted my ‘nana’s’ yams from Koanga back in September 2015. My purchase gave me 19 tubers and took up a bed about 1m x 4m.  The plants seemed to grow well so I was hopeful and checked them for tubers after a few months.  I’ve grown yams once before and from memory those yams grew on top of the greenery so I was a bit disappointed when I couldn’t see anything growing.

yams
Yam tubers ready for harvest

Delwyn was confident that the yams would be in the soil (not on the plants like fruit) so I didn’t abandon all hope.  It was surprisingly hard to find information on growing them – especially on when to harvest.   According to my planting notes the leaves will die down and the yams are best harvested after a frost so that sounded like an autumn harvest.  So now and then I tickled away at the soil to see if there were any sign of yams.  It’s been nearly seven months of watering, weeding, feeding etc so I was starting to feel a bit anxious that this would all come to nothing.  Finally – this week (last week of May) I discovered that I had managed to grow some.  They were growing in the top layer of soil – some on the surface, some slightly buried, so harvesting them was pretty easy.  Some had been eaten by bugs and some were a bit rotten so I wondered if they should have been picked earlier after all my waiting!  I harvested two of these plants initially – see photo below.

My first yam harvest
My first yam harvest

Most of the tubers were quite small, so by the time I cut and trimmed them for cooking, a bit more was lost.  This lot was 210g which doesn’t seem like a very good yield from two initial tubers.  I roasted the bigger ones and found they weren’t especially tasty.  The small ones cleaned up easily enough and I included them in a curry but again there wasn’t much of a distinctive taste.  I think it’s easy to over cook them and lose the flavour.  After a frost the sweetness in tubers (yams included) is increased so I’m leaving the rest in the ground until we have one – which shouldn’t be too far off.    I love yams when they’re in season – they’re great roasted or sautéed with a little butter.  Hopefully I’ve got lots more to dig up and can experiment with different ways to cook them.

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  1. My Dad used to grow yams. Definitely best roasted, especially when put in the pan with meat so they get some flavour from the meat juices and caramelise a bit. Yummy. They do take a while to roast to get them to the stage of crispy on the outside and soft inside. Must go and buy some!! My garden isn’t big enough to grow them. It’s full of green goodies.

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