Starting early

Buried treasure: ‘Inca Gold’ yams. We’ll roast them with honey and orange juice.


Looks like we’re in for a couple of wild days of weather – it has been bucketing down for 36 hours and shows no sign of relenting. The stream through our swamp is now a raging torrent, the cats are refusing to put a paw outdoors and I can almost guarantee that our sheep will no doubt choose today to start lambing.
Luckily, we made good use of the fine (albeit grey) day on Saturday. Jason hoed over a good sized chunk of my vege patch and Mum helped me sow and transplant several rows of strawberries, peas and broad beans. Lucas helped too, if you call flinging dirt about and stealing my trowel help.
Last year I had two rows of ‘Camarosa’ strawberries in this particular corner of the garden. Now I have four; we divided up the crowns and replanted them in fresh mounds of soil enriched with a bag of strawberry food.
Then we sowed and transplanted: 2 rows of ‘Novella’ peas; a row of double Shirley poppy seedlings; 2 rows of ‘Exhibition Long Pod’ broad beans; a row of cauliflowers and broccoflowers; 2 rows of ‘Easy Peasy’ peas; a row of orange calendulas; 2 rows of ‘Greenfeast’ peas; a row of celery seedlings; 2 rows of crimson-flowered broad beans (I’m slowly bulking up my seeds of this unusual variety, though I’ll have to cover the plants when they start flowering to avoid cross-pollination); and 2 rows of climbing ‘Sugarsnap’ peas. (You may have guessed that I’m trialling all the different pea varieties, as I did with carrots last spring, to see which ones produce the best yields, the climbers or the dwarves.)
We also harvested a bowl of scrummy ‘Inca Gold’ yams. I planted the seed tubers two seasons ago, but didn’t get around to digging them up last winter (being somewhat preoccupied with a newborn baby). They popped up again last spring so I ignored them, then of course the 22 frosts we’ve had so far this winter dealt to their tender oxalis-like foliage and they died down without trace a few weeks ago. Jason was busy digging the soil over when he unearthed them. “Oh wow,” I said. “We’ve got yams!” “Oh,” replied Jason, “is that what they are? I thought they were Jerusalem artichokes so I was trying to dig them back in before you noticed.”
Bless ‘im. I’ve clearly forced him to eat enough Jerusalem artichokes this winter to last a lifetime.

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8 thoughts on “Starting early

  1. Hi Lynda
    The Shirley poppies and Calendula plants, are they there as a food source, companion plants or to look pretty and attract the bees?

    • Hi Robyn,
      I like to put in a row of flowers for every few rows of veges. I suppose I could claim that it’s to bring in beneficial insects, bees and butterflies… but I’d be lying. I just do it to make the garden look nice in summer. Plus I find that if you whack in a row of seedlings between rows of seeds, you can look back at the end of the day and feel like you’ve made a bit of progress (and not just that you’ve dug over a vast expanse of dirt).

  2. wow you had a busy day – well done. Yams are so easy and prolific to grow. I love them and it’s my five year old son’s fav vege 🙂 It was so good to see the gorgeous Lucas in the magazine this month. He is sooo cute and i know he will grow up with green fingers and a love of gardening just like his mum. 🙂

    • Hi Katrina,
      I’ve never managed to grow decent yams before – mine have always ended up the size and shape of marbles, rather than giant huhu grubs. Though I always tend to plant them in places that subsequnetly get smothered by other plants over summer.

  3. Hi Lynda, raining Sunday & Monday in Kerikeri too. I used Calendula seedlings to mark rows of garlic but something has eaten most of the leaves – just left the “rib” down the middle. Plants were under wire netting and the vege garden is rabbit proofed so maybe slugs? Wet weather jobs – Hubby made me 3 huge compost bins from wooden pallets. Plus I finally got my birthday present 2 wooden obelisks, Gorgeous and definitely worth the wait (plan was in NZ Gardener Magazine). Wet weather jobs for me – make 8kg of frozen tomatoes into sauce/chutney.
    Look on the bright side when it rains there are no frosts for you but would someone please tell it to stop raining now.

  4. Wow, Lynda, what a hive of industry! All I can boast is still having fresh basil and mint. I experimented a couple of months ago by buying some hydroponic, supermarket basil and mint plants (cheaper than the garden centre), potting them up in big pots and putting them on a sunny windowsill, where they grew well. As winter approached and the temperature dropped, I started pulling one side of the thermal-backed curtains around the two pots at night, leaving the rest of the window uncurtained. When the sun rose, the herbs got some light until the temperature and I rose to draw back the curtain and let in full daylight. To my surprise, both herbs continued to grow and neither has gone to seed. The recent week of cold weather has finally cheesed off the basil, which is ready for euthanasia, but and the mint is definitely thriving!

  5. Hello Lynda, What yummy yams!!!! So lucky you saw them before Jason ”did his thing, and dug them in !”
    I, like you have only ever grown ” red marbles!!” , so will have another go in a tub, named, so they won’t be lost. Wish I was your age again with all that energy. Your garden is going to be a picture. We only have Kale, silver beet, strawberries, thyme, mint ,sage and nz spinach ,beetroot and runner beans ( hope they will re grow again),and carrots at the moment.
    Honey and orange juice on your roasted yams sounds ”YUM” I do carrots in honey and lemon juice. Gay.

  6. Have not managed to grow yams here in Queensland, but discovered I have a great crop of turmeric under the soil, dug up this week. Hooray. Now , how do I use i cooking and what recipes? I have only ever used (bought) ground turmeric.

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