Beans and peas defy the sea­son

Matamata Chronicle - - Gardening - LYNDA HALLINAN

known as yams, just to make things more con­fus­ing), are a peren­nial species of tu­ber­form­ing, rather than bulb­form­ing and weedy, ox­alis. If well-grown and har­vested with care, they are a re­ward­ing, no-fuss win­ter crop. It’s only when lots of small tu­bers are left in the soil that they can out­stay their wel­come. • Yams are frost-ten­der. Bury the seed tu­bers af­ter the risk of late frosts has passed in spring, and wait ‘til frost knocks down the leafy tops of the plants the fol­low­ing win­ter to start har­vest­ing. The flavour of the tu­bers is bet­ter af­ter a few frosts. • Be­cause yams are dug af­ter their tops die down, it’s a good idea to put in a stake next to each plant, so you don’t miss any come har­vest time. • When har­vest­ing, use a spade to lift and dump all the soil out on to a tar­pau­lin or into a wheelbarrow. Then you can sift the soil thor­oughly to make sure you don’t leave too many tiny tu­bers in the ground, as these will sprout the fol­low­ing year but are un­likely to amount to much more than a nui­sance. • You can grow your own yams from store­bought or home-saved tu­bers, or buy seed tu­bers of spe­cial va­ri­eties from gar­den cen­tres. They come in a range of colours from gold to or­ange and tra­di­tional red. • Plant yams in fer­tile soil in a sunny po­si­tion. Space them out 30-40cm apart, bury­ing the tu­bers 5cm deep, and mound up. Dig in com­post prior to plant­ing and side dress with fer­tiliser when the tops emerge. • To store yams for re­plant­ing in spring, just keep them in a pa­per bag in a cup­board in­doors. This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­

If you have an abun­dance of or­ganic seeds, sprout any spares. And if you have heaps of flower seeds, mix them all to­gether to make your own wild­flower mix to scat­ter over a patch of bare ground next spring.

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