Hunting for jicama plants and seeds
I've had a new challenge. Actually, last spring I got a call from a winter visitor and she asked me if I knew where she could get some jicama seeds. My answer: I don't know but I can find out. I was sure I could find out by the time she came back to Yuma this fall.
I asked around and soon discovered it was not going to be as easy as I thought. Then it sort of got pushed to the back burner. Well, she just called me back again this last week and I was embarrassed to tell her that I had not been able to find a source to get the seeds.
She agreed to give me a second chance, and this time I was determined.
I contacted the seed company where we have found the seeds for the Moringa trees and he could not help me.
I got on the Internet again - good ol' google.com! After several tries with jicima, jicama, the plant, a picture of, and various other ways of asking, all I came up with was many recipes for using it! In one of the recipes it referred to jicama as a Mexican potato.
Well, I finally found it on the Internet under Jicama, Mexican Potato! The scientific name is Pachyrrhizus eros. I was then able to call her back and tell her where she could order the seeds.
Jicama is an interesting tropical plant that requires at least a nine-month growing season. It is an attractive vine plant and can be a welcome addition to a flower garden. It blooms profusely with white to lavender-colored flowers that resemble sweet peas. Its leaves are heart-shaped and large.
It is best to presoak seeds for 24 hours before planting. The immature seedpods are edible, as well as the turnip-like roots for which it is grown.
But it also warns that you should be careful where you plant jicama, as the ripe pods, leaves and seeds are toxic and narcotic. Care should be taken that no humans or animals will mistakenly eat these parts.
It can be grown near a trellis for support or it can also be grown on the ground but then requires a lot of space. When they grow to about 3 feet you can pinch the tips to promote more branching. Tubers form as days grow shorter.
The information I got from ECHO in southwest Florida said that, regardless of planting date, tubers were not formed until days became very short, around December. It went on to say for that reason, it is unlikely that jicama can be grown commercially in the United States, except southern Florida and perhaps southern Texas.
They didn't even mention southern Arizona. Are they ignoring us? I'd be interested to know if any of our readers have grown jicama here.
But I still have not been able to find a picture of the plant. Perhaps some of our readers know where we can buy the seeds or see the plant growing in this area. If you do, I'd appreciate a call with that information.
It is that time of year again - time to treat yourself to a day off. Plan to do that on March 16 by attending the Pecan Grove Garden Club's 10th annual Welcome to My Garden tour. It will be held from 1 to 5 p.m..
Usually there are four gardens on the tour, but because this is the 10th year, this year's garden tour will feature six gardens.
Tickets are on sale now. The cost is $7 in advance or $10 at the garden. So save money and get your tickets early. They are available at PIP Printing, 386 E. 16th St., 726-5914; Evergreen Nursery, 12479 E. South Frontage Road, 342-2126; Highway Nursery, 4200 E. Highway 80, 344-9760; and Yuma Nursery, 4405 S. Avenue A, 344-2820.
On March 6, there will be pictures and more information about the garden tour on the front page of this section of the paper. Don't miss it! I'll be giving you a sneak preview of the gardens.
Thought for the day: Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.
Ellen Gardner is a master gardener and writes this column for the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma. For further information, call 343-4020 or e-mail: email@example.com