Northland is somewhat renowned for its Kumara, but even the experts in Dargaville struggled this year. Hearing that made me feel somewhat better, as our crop was certainly not up to par with what they've been in the past. They need long warm summers to develop the tubers, and we certainly didn't get that here. That is somewhat reflective in the prices at the supermarket at the moment, and the fact that they've been no cheap bags at our local service station all year, which is where we often get ours from when we run out of our own.
All was not lost though, because somewhere during the year I stumbled across using the leaves from the existing plants to grow new slips for the following seasons. Essentially that means, no more sacrificing a kumara to grow slips with any luck.
I was somewhat worried whether I could keep the slips alive and healthy this long, but I have done (I even forgot to check water levels a couple of times and they still survived). I essentially took the newest tips, and popped them in water and kept them alongside my tomatoes since about May. They are certainly ready to go out soon though, and are the biggest slips I would have planted out. And in keeping with my 'let's try things differently', I have a polytunnel in place already just for that first month while the weather is still a wee bit ccooler. Instead of being the last crop to go in, they are likely to be one of the first.
The kumara will need a good five months to grow. We use our boy's old paddling pool as having the hard bottom helps to promote the tuber growth.