Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) is a root vegetable that is popular in Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine. It is also known as yam bean, Mexican potato, or Chinese potato. Jicama is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. It has a crunchy and slightly sweet taste that makes it a great addition to salads, stir-fries, and dips.
Choosing the Right Jicama Seeds
Before you can grow jicama, you need to choose the right seeds. You can buy jicama seeds from online seed stores, local nurseries, or garden centers. Look for seeds that are fresh and plump. Avoid seeds that are discolored, cracked, or withered.
It’s best to choose non-GMO and organic jicama seeds to ensure that you’re not using genetically modified organisms or pesticides that can harm the environment and your health.
When to Plant Jicama Seeds
Jicama is a warm-season crop that requires a long growing season of 150-180 days. It grows best in tropical and subtropical regions where the temperature is between 75-90°F (24-32°C) and the humidity is high.
If you live in a cooler climate, you can still grow jicama by starting the seeds indoors and transferring the seedlings outside after the last frost. You can also grow jicama in a greenhouse or a hydroponic system.
How to Plant Jicama Seeds
Jicama seeds are easy to plant and care for. Here are the steps:
- Prepare the soil by loosening it up and removing any weeds or rocks that can hinder the growth of the jicama roots.
- Sow the jicama seeds ½ inch deep and 2-3 inches apart.
- Water the seeds deeply and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
- Place the seeds in a warm and sunny spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Wait for the seeds to germinate, which can take 7-14 days.
Caring for Jicama Plants
Jicama plants are low-maintenance and don’t require much attention. Here are some tips to care for your jicama plants:
- Water the plants deeply once a week or when the soil is dry to touch.
- Fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.
- Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
- Support the plants with trellises or stakes to prevent them from falling over.
- Watch out for pests and diseases, such as aphids, spider mites, powdery mildew, and root rot. Treat them with organic insecticides and fungicides.
Jicama is ready for harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow and dry up, and the vines begin to wither. This usually happens around 6-9 months after sowing the seeds.
To harvest jicama, follow these steps:
- Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the jicama plant.
- Gently pull out the roots from the soil.
- Remove the leaves and stems from the roots.
- Wash the roots thoroughly with water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Store the jicama in a cool and dry place for up to 2-3 weeks.
Growing jicama from seeds is a rewarding and fun activity that can provide you with a fresh and healthy vegetable that you can use in various dishes. By following the tips and steps outlined in this article, you can successfully grow and harvest jicama in your garden or home.