Wednesday 4 January 2017

Growing jicama in the UK

Back from her travels in Mexico before Christmas, MsMarmiteLover presented me with a small bag of jicama seeds. Jicama (Pachyrrizus erosus) is widely eaten in Mexico: its roots are peeled and sliced to eat raw, often with a squeeze of lime and some chilli. They are crisp and crunchy and taste fresh like apple, or water chestnuts. The seeds are very hard to come by in the UK, and here is our chance to try to raise a crop in London.

She knows I like a challenge.

Jicama is strictly speaking a tropical plant. It's a legume and in Mexico, and other Central American countries, it grows as a vine up to about 2m high. The very decorative blue or white flowers, reminiscent of wisteria, must unfortunately be removed if you are growing the plant as an vegetable crop. Taking the flowers makes the plant expend its energy developing the edible roots. It is only the roots which can be eaten: the beanpods and the seeds are poisonous.

To get these plants going in the UK, we need to get them going early. Soaking the seed for 24 hours prior to sowing helps with germination. They'll benefit from heat too, so I'll start the seeds in modules in the heated propagator and position it on the sunniest south-facing windowsill.

soaking jicama seeds
Soaking the seed for 24 hours before sowing will
help germination
If they're going to germinate they'll do so quite quickly but the seedlings will need to stay warm and light for as long as possible, so they'll stay on the windowsill, moving into a grown-up pot once the plants are big enough to handle. Once all danger of frost is past we'll transfer the plants to my greenhouse, which is sadly not heated but which happily hosts aubergines, sweet potatoes, and melon pears in the summer months. The plants will need some support if they are not to twine and trail around the greenhouse floor.

They need well-drained soil, loamy and/or sandy to help the roots develop smoothly, and also water in the growing months - irrigating the greenhouse isn't a problem - and after that, we just need a nice long warm summer. One like 2016 would do nicely, in fact.

Try Jungle Seeds  or Chiltern Seeds in the UK.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave comments, we always appreciate feedback...