Saturday, March 31, 2018

Growing kumara in the Lower Moutere

Top tips learnt on growing kumara

  • A long, hot summer
  • Digging a pit, lining the bottom with something, like cardboard, and refilling with loose soil
  • Cover the small shoots with netting so birds don't pull them out of the ground
  • Burying rocks in the soil, helps keeps the soil temperature up
  • Lifting the vines so they don't put down more little roots.

A bucket load of kumara

Last year I tried growing kumara.
I dug a pit, put some cardboard at the bottom and shovelled the dirt back on top.
I put the in shoots, purchased from the garden shop down the road, but I didn't cover them with netting and the birds pulled them all out of the ground.
I bought a second lot and planted them - with the moon and in a hook shape. But they only produced teeny weeny kumara that were not worth anything
This year I chose a more sunny position.
I dug a pit, lined the bottom with cardboard.
I planted shoots from the garden shop.
I covered them with netting.
I pushed some large stones into the top of the mound of earth to help retain heat in the soil.
It was a hot summer and I regularly watered the patch.
The vines grew very well. I pulled them up as they stretched along the ground to keep them from putting down more roots.
Working out the best time to harvest was tricky. Some information suggests when the leaves turn yellow and others before this.
We harvested in late March.
I have only been planting a small plot as an experimental bed. It was like an archaeological dig, following the vines down under ground to the tubers and bringing them out undamaged. It is easy to break the vines off from the tubers and then locating the tuber can be difficult so the gentle scrapping and loosening the soil and tubers with my hands helped to get all the tubers.
One of the bigger kumara I found was after I thought the pit was empty and was forking through the soil one last time. There it was a massive kumara.
All up from plants we harvested 4.5kg of kumara.
At the time kumara were selling for $7.50/kilo.

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.