Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yacon in a Pallet Grow Box

Up until this year I've always grown yacon in the traditional way....right in the ground. But it seems to me that this plant would do very well in one of the pallet grow boxes. This is some of the reasons that led me to this conclusion..... responds very well to compost and manure likes to send roots down and produce its largest tubers under the plant
....tubers can easily reach 15" below the surface
....the tall stalks could use a bit of support grows best when I can apply extra mulch and manure-mulch periodically during the growing season does best for me in soil that can stay moist but also drains well

The pallet grow boxes seem to be able to provide for everything on my list. 
....the box is essentially one giant compost bin with manure
....the boxes are deep
...the tubers can easily be harvested by simply removing a side and gently scooping the soil away the growing season progresses, the soil level will sink, leaving the pallet sides available to help support the tall stalks the soil level lowers, it is easy to add layers of mulch and manure
....the boxes drain well and the compost mix retains moisture

In theory, it sounds great. So next step is to give it a try. 
(Disclaimer--- the photos are lousy. The day was overcast and drizzling. No sun = lousy photos.) 

Enter one clump of yacon plant base, loaded with nodes that are starting to sprout......
First step: cut the clump into pieces for planting. By dividing the clump up, I can get lots of smaller plants. I find from experience that a smaller clump with 1 to 3 sprouts produces a nice sized plant where the underground tubers don't get overcrowded. 

Dividing the clump is easy. The nodules are crisp and easy to cut or break apart. 

Above - here's the grow box that I'm planting today. It's been filled and tromped down for several weeks. It has heated up and cooled down. So it's ready. I simply laid the pieces on top. (pictured below)

I planted 9 pieces, 5 of which I will be transplanting to another grow box in a week or so. That will leave four yacon plants in this box. The second box is almost ready for planting but is still a tad too warm, so I'll wait one more week for that one. But in the meantime the yacon keikis can spend a few days starting to grow some roots while in this box.

Above-  I'm piling about 3 inches of garden soil on top. Of course 3 inches isn't much, but remember that I plan to continually keep adding mulch, compost, or manure. Eventually the yacon will be under 5-6 inches of material, maybe more.

The final step, above---- water. I watered the box lightly. Since it is an overcast and drizzly day, I haven't added any mulch on the top. I'll let the rain moisten the soil for me tonight. Tomorrow will be time to add an inch or so of mulch, enough to keep the sun off the soil surface. As the yacon grows, I will add more grass clipping mulch so that it will be 2-3 inches thick. If we go into a drought, then the mulch layer will need to be thicker. 

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