When To Harvest Kumara, Perfectly Ripe Pumpkins and Early Garlic

A wheelbarrow full on the delicious New Zealand sweet potato, known as Kumara

When To Harvest Kumara

My kumara aren’t huge this year (that’s what happens when summer doesn’t arrive). I’ve had a poke around in the soil and there appears to be a higher rate of smalls than usual, a few average size tubers and next to no big ones. There may be surprises lurking – only harvest will tell. And harvest is soon – they’ve had their 120 days and as the weather is cooling off (did it ever properly warm up?) – I’m harvesting in the next stretch of dry weather.

Years of trial and error, in my dogged determination to grow a good kumara crop in our less than ideal conditions, have taught me to get my tubers up as early as possible. Eschew common advice to wait till the tops yellow and die – you’ll be waiting for winter whereby the tubers will be blemished or worse going mushy. All in all resulting in a short shelf life.

Cold soil and kumara are not friends. So as early in Autumn as I can, I harvest.

Should you need further help, here’s a little e-book I wrote – A Guide to Growing Great Kumara.

The Quest For Sweet Pumpkins

queensland blueI turned my pumpkins yesterday to expose the wet patch underneath to the sun and air, and stuffed more mulch underneath. Rot is a tragedy we can easily avoid.

If you cannot turn your pumpkin because of a short stalk then brush any wet stuff/ slugs/ slaters off, and pile up dry stuff under their bums.

They look ready – fat and full and just like a bought one; but until the stalks have dried you’d best leave them a bit longer. We are on a quest for sweet pumpkin flesh. And though the vine is yellowing and looking as if it’s loosing it’s zest for life, the final, important stages of maturity are happening. The green rind beneath the skin turns yellow/ orange, the seeds ripen, the skin hardens and the flesh turns a deeper hue of orange. For the full expression you must wait till it’s done.

When you deem your pumpkins ready, harvest them with the stalk on by cutting where the stalk meets what’s left of the vine. The stalk is key to storage – like a cork in a wine bottle it’s sealing all the goodness in and keeping air and moisture out. To go the full hog and develop the flesh to it’s top potential cure your fruits for 3 or 4 weeks on a slatted surface, somewhere dry, dark and airy.

Early Garlic

planting garlic
I’ve never planted garlic this early before, but I’m having a play to see if I can outwit rust this spring. It’s going into the bulk bed down the back, away from the vegie patch. Peas and oats have been paving the way for it since early summer.

So in it goes. I’m going to stagger sow over the next few months and watch what happens.

For garlic planting how to’s, here’s my Ebook – How To Grow Great Garlic.

I’ll keep you posted.