JULY IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
We’re into the yumminess of yam eating and this year they are an important part of our diet as we try to stretch out the potatoes. Last year’s spud season was not so good for us, and the tomatoes weren’t much either.
This coming season we will be applying copper. Copper helps to control fungal outbreaks but as a heavy metal it is to be used with great caution. We don’t do it often as we prefer to strive for a balanced garden when it comes to soil building with the use of lime, manures, minerals and planting rotations. And then of course there is the weather…
But back to yams. These tasty members of the oxalis family are planted in spring after frosts finish. We save the biggest and best-looking yams and every two or three years freshen up the strain with a few bought supermarket ones, ones not sprayed with a sprout inhibitor.
Through their long growing season we treat them like the potatoes, earthing them up at least once, preferably twice, as they grow. Then we do nada, nothing, until the tops begin to die off in winter, apart from watering. Fertility is provided just the once in basic ground preparation of manuring and liming.
It’s no use looking to see how big they might be getting in the early part of their growth as the tubers don’t size up until about the last six weeks before harvest. A frost will sweeten them further, and the crop is left in the ground as we find they don’t store well in bags or boxes.
In the kitchen, yams are roasted, added to soups, casseroles - both vegetarian and meat - curries, and sometimes just boiled, then drizzled with lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper. They cook quickly, require minimal preparation and are good for us, an excellent all-round vege.