Root Vegetables

july17-yacon-main

How to grow Yacon

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) , also known as the ‘Peruvian ground apple’ or ‘apple of the earth’, is commonly grown in the Andes region of South America.

It’s a herbaceous root vegetable that above ground looks like a small-flowered sunflower or Jerusalem artichoke (yacon is in the same plant family) and below ground has edible tubers that resemble sweet potatoes.

They have sweet taste with a crunchy texture and their mild flavour makes them flexible enough to be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Thinly sliced they can be eaten raw and also baked, fried, stewed or boiled. Nutritionally yacon is attracting some interest due to it’s inulin content. Inulin is an insoluble dietary fibre which has good prebiotic qualities and is therefore very beneficial for gut health. Yacon is low in calories and may also assist in regulating blood sugar levels.

Yacon is a hardy, vigorous vegetable that can grow up to 2 m tall. In temperate to warm areas yacon rhizomes can be planted at any time of the year however in frost prone regions planting should be delayed until after the last frost.

Before planting, enrich the soil first by digging in some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Soil Improver and Plant Fertiliser. This will both improve soil quality and provide organic slow release nutrients to the yacon as it establishes. Reapply Yates Dynamic Lifter every 6 weeks throughout the growing season to encourage healthy growth and plump tasty tubers.

Yacon requires around 6 months to mature, with tubers being able to be carefully harvested after flowering has finished and the foliage has died down. Store yacon similar to potatoes and sweet potatoes (in a cool, dry well ventilated place).


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