Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Growing Kumaras (Sweet Potato)

Back in October last year when I first established my new Top garden, I was keen to make use of this nice sunny spot and have a go at growing Kumara, which is the Maori word for sweet potato. Kumara is mostly grown in the warm northern part of New Zealand – they need a long hot summer to grow well. So after preparing the soil I got hold of a bunch of Kumara seedlings from the local nursery.

There were 25 shoots in total which I planted out in a 5x5 square on Oct 17.

They were quite slow to get started taking 7-8 weeks to get to this point (shown below). As you can see everything else in the garden had taken off before they'd even taken root properly.

I wasn't too worried as I figured most of the activity was happening under the ground. However it still took until February (the height of summer) before they were showing any signs of real vigorous growth...

After it got really hot they were starting to dominate the garden, even sending out laterals across the lawn. 

With the weather now starting to cool down I thought it must be time for harvesting, although they reckon the foliage needs to die down first or at least start to turn yellow. It's taken such a long time – 5 1/2 months so far so I couldn't resist digging up a corner of the Kumara patch to see what was happening under the ground. It took quite a bit of digging around before I found anything but I eventually found 2 big tubers which was pretty encouraging.

Unfortunately, it seemed to me there will be maybe only one tuber per seedling planted, so there may not be so many. But they're a reasonable size so I'm pretty happy about. I'll probably be harvesting them in the next week or two so I'll post the results then.


  1. I always grow potatoes but never tried Sweet potato. I don't know if our summers here in Tassie would be hot enough. I absolutely love them, they make nice chips too.

  2. Hi Daniel, Thanks for visiting my blog. The garden's a great place for Painting inspiration – I'm glad you like it.

  3. I tried growing potatoes this year but that was one of my failures unfortunately. Hopefully the kumara's done better than the potatoes. It looks promising so far.
    Kumara's are supposed to be one of the more healthy root vegetables to eat. I think it's because they're full of fibre, but not so high in starch.

  4. That is keledek in Malay. The young leaves is edible. Sauté garlic onion n chili paste till it smells nice. Add3 handful or more as it shrivel. Or sauté garlic nome shrimps then add leaves add 2cup of water can eat w rice.

  5. Or cook in coconut milk chop garli some crush chili, add seafood as additional flavour.simmer that is..sayur puck keledek can be eaten with rice.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes my wife cooked some of the leaves too in a Japanese stir-fry. She loves Malaysian food though, so she'll be keen to try your recipe suggestions.