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Yams (Dioscorea alata) are one of the easiest and highly productive plant tubers to cultivate. Once planted in, it can keep cropping and if any tuber is left in the ground it will sprout up over time. Yams can be roasted, mashed or steamed and are a perfect side to be served with the Sunday roast!


How to grow yam in a garden

  1. Buy seeds of yams just like buying potato seeds from a garden centre. 
  2. Enrich well drained soil by digging in compost & Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. If the soil is clay based, add gypsum and fork in well.  
  3. Prepare furrows, space between rows about 50 cm and plant the sprouted yams in to the soil at a depth of 15 cm. Place the new growth upwards. 
  4. Water in well. 
  5. Light mulching with organic mulch like bark chips, sugarcane or pea straw will ensure moisture retention in the soil.  
  6. Water at least two times a week, depending on weather conditions.  
  7. Feed every 6-8 weeks from spring to mid autumn with  Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. During flowering and fruiting stages feed weekly with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food.  
  8. Tubers will push through soil so mounding them with soil is required. In frost prone regions, it can be harvested after the first frost as the cold improves flavour and sweetness. Pull out the Yams by digging into the soil. Wash them thoroughly and can be used for cooking immediately. Or you can store them in a cool dark place for a few months. 
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How to grow yam in a pot

  1. Choose a pot at least 600 mm wide or large rectangular pots. Fill with quality potting mix, such as Yates Potting Mix with Dynamic Lifter.  
  2. Add a small amount of Yates Waterwise Water Storage Crystals to the mix. These will help hold extra moisture. 
  3. Plant the tubers about 10 cm deep and backfill with potting mix. 
  4. Position the pots in full sun. Water in well. 
  5. Add light mulch over the potting mix surface with organic mulch like bark, chips, sugarcane or pea straw. 
  6. Once planted, keep the pot adequately watered, but don’t let the water sit in a saucer at the base of the pot. 
  7. Feed every 6-8 weeks from spring to mid autumn with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. During flowering and fruiting stages feed weekly with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food.
  8. Tubers will push through soil so mounding them with soil is required. In frost prone regions, it can be harvested after the first frost as the cold improves flavour and sweetness. Pull out the Yams by digging into the soil. Wash them thoroughly and can be used for cooking immediately. Or you can store them in a cool dark place for a few months.

Growing tips

  • This plant is from the Oxalis family, hence if you wish to use the garden bed for other vegetables in the future best to plant them in containers or dedicate a separate space for cultivating them. In America, sweet potato (tropical plant) is known as yam which is different than the New Zealand yams. 
  • Yams require very little attention and management though they do get attacked by pests.  
  • The foliage is susceptible to sun burn especially on extra hot days, you can provide your plant with some additional protection during this period by applying Yates Droughtshield to the leaves. 
  • They grow rapidly in warmer months. 
  • There are a few types of yams that are grown and available in Australia
    •  ‘Inca Gold’ – A sweet golden yellow variety. 
    • ‘Red’ – A delicious sweet reddish pink variety. 

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