The Kumara Conundrum

Gardener:Somerset Sue

Date:05 Sep 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables, Recipes

I have just seen a blog by the Flower Lady about kumara and it had brought back memories of our own short history with kumara. 

I have always wanted to grow kumara but was never really sure how it grew and what it needed to be successful. In 2018 I decided to give it a go. So with the help of my friend Google I found that kumara needs a hard pan to stop it's roots travelling to China - preferably a layer of clay below the topsoil. Well we don't have a clay pan so our friend G told us we could bury some roofing iron under the soil to perform a similar purpose. 

In early October of 2018 my amazing Super Husband and I dug out just under a metre of soil in one of our vege patches, laid down some corrugated iron and then put all the topsoil back on top, needless to say we were absolutely shattered. We then formed heaped rows and I planted kumara slips on the top of the rows. Within a week they were all dead.

I bought more kumara slips and these survived and flourished. I followed Googles advice and didn't over feed or water and pulled out any runners that decide to root along the troughs between the rows. 

In April the following year (kumara like a long hot growing season) we harvested our crop. It was so bloody exciting! 36 kilo including a giant 1.1 kilo monstrosity. I had bought 3 packs of 12 plants for 3 dollars each pack so it was a great return on our investment of 9 dollars.

The following two years we planted our kumara in the same plot and had some success but nowhere near as much as the first year. So last year we tried growing them in tyres. It worked really well and took up less room.

While the kumara keep well for a while, I find freezing them is the best way to ensure an ongoing supply. I parboil them in different sizes, some for roasting, some for chips and then diced for salads.

My favourite way of eating kumara is diced and roasted in honey, a sprinkle of brown sugar and garlic salt. I then toss it (complete with cooking juices) in any sort of raw leaves - lettuce, mesclun, spinach - with roasted walnuts and slices of orange... divine!

The Kumara Conundrum