I finally have my own kumara slips, which are ready to be planted in the garden (see photo). I’ve been through a lot to get here. Better late than never! You may recall me mentioning that one of my failures this spring was kumara, as they didn’t sprout in the greenhouse. In September, I had buried a few kumara in a trough filled with some potting mix, which I kept moist. For a long time, there was no action but about three weeks ago, they started to do their thing and developed shoots! You can’t rush mother nature and I resisted the temptation to purchase slips from Awapuni just to hurry things along, because I knew that I’d only end up losing them due to the extremely temperamental weather we’ve had this spring. A week ago, I picked off the shoots and potted them up in another trough, which I kept outdoors in our patio. I checked on them today and sure enough, the slips had formed roots so they’re ready to be planted into the garden now.
You might also recall me mentioning in a previous post that I haven’t had much luck growing kumara over the years except the first one, which was a case of beginner’s luck. Not knowing very much about veggie gardening at all, I simply plonked some slips in the ground with no bed preparation beforehand (but after doing some research it seems that this was the right thing!). It was late too – about mid-december. In April, I harvested enormous tubers but somehow in subsequent years I have never been able to replicate my success. I’ve already chosen the site. I’m pulling out a row of strawberries that aren’t very productive – not my plants from the commercial grower in Katikati (those are cropping incredibly well) but a row of first year runners from garden centre plants. I thought it might be a good idea to do a bit of research first before planting my slips so I have better luck this season.
Here is a summary of some kumara growing tips I discovered during my research:
Next steps for me
After reflecting on my research, I have decided to sprinkle a little superphosphate fertiliser in the area, but I won’t dig the bed over which I’m pretty sure I didn’t do the season I grew kumara successfully. I’ll add a little lime too, as our soil is on the alkaline side. I’m then going to lay down some black plastic before popping in my slips. It seems as though I’ll be using a lot of black plastic this season – I’ve already rolled it out for my rockmelon, squash and pumpkins which are all doing nicely. Given the variable temperatures we have experienced all spring, I can’t assume this won’t continue into summer. The black plastic will help keep the soil temperature warm. It will also prevent the kumara from putting down roots everywhere, which was a problem in the past. I’m going to try and make sure that I plant the shoots in a “J” shape, as this suggestion kept coming up again and again in the results I trawled through. Wish me luck!