A Guide to Fat Yams

planting-yamsYams (oca) are such a fabulous crop – both leaf and tuber are edible, they’re easy care and problem free. There are but two negatives

  1. They’re in the ground for ages (8 months or so). Use edges, wild areas or containers if there isn’t room in your garden.
  2. They’re prone to providing a gazillion itty bitty tubers that never leave you (another advantage to planting in wild areas or containers)

Squitty yams are such a disappointment (and no fun for the cook). And though there will always be plenty of smalls (use them for next years seed and to delight the pig), you can create plenty of big ‘uns with these tips.

My best yam planting tips

  • Spacings play a big part – make for a generous 40cm
  • If you live where Autumns are cool, start your yams early in pots. Fill a third of the pot with potting mix, pop in the yam, then top up with soil. Transplant them into the garden (they transplant happily), in November after risk of frost has passed.
  • Don’t go nuts on foliage producing fertiliser. Good compost worked into free-draining soil is all you need.
  • Keep them moist through summer – mulch is your friend here. Yams hate to dry out. They’re not friends with the heat, so if summers are hot at yours plant them in the shade and mulch deeply.
  • The tubers develop in autumn do dont rush into harvest. Wait until the tops have died and even until after the first frost where they’ll be even sweeter.


  1. Totally agree with the last point about waiting till harvest….last year I dug up half my yams soon after they vines had been killed by frost, and the other half a few weeks after than once the vines were so brown and shrivelled I could hardly find them among the mulch. The second lot were about twice as big as the first!

  2. Hi Kath,

    Can I plant Yams now? Also how do you store the yams that will become next years plants?
    Totally loved the carrot video – I will be trying out your tips on my next carrot sowing – never thought to use mulch on top instead of soil.

    • Hi there Nikki,

      Yes you can plant yams. It does of course depend on where you live et all! Best planted after last frost. I give mine a headstart by sowing in pots as per the article then plant them out in November.

      Wishing you a great carrot crop!

  3. Tania Hannah says

    Is it too late to plant yams now – Nov 30?, Wellington?


    • I always say give it a go! Besides we’ve had such a cool spring that yams aren’t exactly leaping out of the blocks. If you are on heavy wellington soil I recommend using a box or crate or pot.
      best Kath