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YAM GROWING INFORMATION Frances and Jeff Michaels
BOTANICAL NAME: Dioscorea alata
COMMON NAMES: Greater Yam; Chinese Yam; White Yam
FAMILY: Dioscoreaceae
ORIGIN: Tropical Africa

Yams are a very ancient food plant, believed to have been cultivated for more than 12,000 years. They are twining vines with shiny, heart-shaped, purple-tinged leaves and grow from underground tubers which have a brown skin and white flesh and can weigh many kilos. Yams require a fertile, well-drained soil with a high organic matter content. Plant at the beginning of summer in areas that receive a wet season. They will grow in full sun or semi-shade but need a trellis. Plants need plenty of water during the growing season.

Always peel before using as food. Yams can be used in the same way as potatoes, but are probably best baked, the flavour is fairly bland. In Japan, yam is dipped in batter and fried for tempura. In Malaysia, yams are used in a coconut milk dessert.

Recommended planting time: Plant at the beginning of the warm weather, tubers that have been stored will usually begin to sprout as the weather warms up.
Planting depth: Plant the tuber a few cm below the soil surface.
Plant spacing: Space plants 50 cm apart.

Tubers are ready to harvest when the vines die back in late autumn. Excavate carefully to avoid damaging the skin, start a fair way back from the leaf stem. Tubers can be stored for many months in a cool, dry place.

Reference: 'The Yam: A Tropical Root Crop' by L. Degras

SORRY but due to quarantine restrictions between Australian States no plants at all can be ordered by residents of Norfolk Island, Tasmania and Western Australia. These restrictions are very important as they prevent the spread of plant pests and diseases. No potatoes, garlic, shallots, strawberries or tubestock can be sent to South Australia. No tubestock can be sent to Northern Territory.
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