Growing Jicama From Seeds – Planting Guide

Introduction to growing Jicama from seeds: Jicama is a root vegetable grown traditionally in Mexico and Central America, where it originated. You can eat Jicama raw or cooked. The leaves are delicious in salads and stir-fries but do not add many calories, making them a favorite of health-conscious cooks. As a result, growing Jicama is time-consuming, as the tasty underground tubers have to be dug in the fall after a long growing season. Jicama root produces tubers like potatoes. There is a large vine growing from the upper part of the plant to the ground that can reach a length of 15 to 20 feet. The Flowers produced by the vines are either blue or white. It produces pods that are similar to lima beans. However, Plant parts above ground, such as stems, leaves, flowers, pods, and seeds, are poisonous. They all contain the chemical rotenone, used both as an insecticide and as a fish killer. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not let your pet or small children near this plant.

Jicama
Jicama (image source: pixabay)

A guide to growing Jicama from seeds

Varieties of Jicama Plants: The following varieties of Jicama are the most common

  • Pachyrhizus erosus: produces oblong tubers.
  • Tuberous Pachyrhizus: Eros is smaller and more commonly consumed raw than Pachyrhizus tuberous.

How to grow Jicama from seeds

The Jicama plant requires a growing season of nine months. Therefore, seeds should be started indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost in temperate zones with shorter growing seasons. Before planting your seeds, soak them in warm water for 24 hours. The method I use is what I refer to as a cup and saucer. It is best to soak seeds overnight over a cup covered with saucers so that cats (or curious children) cannot get in. To identify which seeds are which, I place the seed packet under the cup since I usually soak more than one type of seed. Then, in a container with a heat mat on top, plant the seeds one inch deep. Germination requires warm soil. Ideally, the soil should be heated to 70°F. Usually, germination takes place within 12-18 days. The following spring, once all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to at least 500F, you can harden off your seedlings and plant them in the garden.

Plant jicama after the frost threat has passed: If there is a frost, Jicama won’t do well, so wait until the weather has warmed up before planting it in your garden. The best time to plant Jicama is one to two weeks after the date of the last frost in your region. The jicama plant may not grow well if its climate stays cold most of the time.

Get jicama seeds: You will need to obtain seeds if you do not already possess them. Jicama seeds can be bought at a nursery, some home improvement stores, or even online. Before you plant, check the packet to make sure the seeds you have are the right kind.

Soak the seeds: A method of speeding up the germination process, jicama seeds should be soaked in warm water and placed in a shallow dish. Twenty-four hours is enough time for them to sit. Once the seeds are removed from the water, discard them.

Choose a good location: Find a spot in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. You can tell how successful your harvest will be based on the spot where you plant the Jicama. Ideally, you should select a location that will receive full sunlight for six to eight hours.

Choose a location with good soil: Select an area where the soil is moist but not soggy. Make sure the soil has a pH of over seven and is alkaline. You can measure your urine’s pH quickly with a pH tester. Then, when it comes time to plant the seeds indoors, you can plant them in a pot before the last frost. A medium-sized pot should consist of planting soil, perlite, vermiculite, and a little peat moss. Place the pot under a grow light or next to a sunny window. If you start seeds in a pot, you should wait for them to grow to 3 inches (7.6 cm) tall before planting.

Water the seeds: If you wish to plant the seeds in a pot before the frost, you will need to water them regularly once you have planted them in a medium-sized pot with planting soil. You can water the seeds any time the soil feels dry until they are moist.

Make small holes:  Drill holes about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) deep—the number of seeds you want to the number of holes you need to dig. Approximately 12 inches (30.5 cm) should separate the holes. Plant multiple rows at a distance of 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 m). Plant the jicama seeds in the soil. It is possible to dig the holes beforehand or after the seeds have been planted. The soil should feel moist and warm without you having to water it first. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and tamp them down.

How to store Jicama seeds

It is best to store jicama seeds at a cool temperature. The best temperatures are between 50- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit. Under 50⁰F, the tubers will suffer damage. The temperature inside refrigerators is usually below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, making them insufficient for storing potatoes. A heated basement or garage makes a great storage space. Tubers will stay fresh for one to two months if they are stored correctly. Jicama plants may not be available at your local nursery in the spring. Nonetheless, specialty vegetable catalogs usually offer seeds that you can start indoors in the north or sow directly in the garden if you live in tropical or sub-tropical areas so that you can enjoy this vegetable fresh from the garden.

The following guidelines should be followed when growing Jicama seedlings:

  • Providing your jicama plants with lots of potassium will help them develop strong roots. Pick a potassium-rich weekly plant food to make sure your plants thrive.
  • Maintain 2-inch watering of your plants every week to keep weeds at day. Nutrients shouldn’t be competing with weeds for the nutrients from root vegetables.
  • During the growing process, your plant will produce a flowering vine. Maintaining a high level of soil protection is very important. Trellis systems help keep vines growing upward. Remember that healthy roots are evident in healthy vines.
  • few things you should know:
  • To stress that jicama leaves, vines, and flowers are poisonous, humans should not eat them. In addition, most pests aren’t attracted to the plants, so your pest control efforts needn’t be extensive.

How to grow Jicama plants

In case if you miss this: Easy Vegetables To Grow Indoors.

Jicama Plants
Jicama Plants

A jicama plant takes over 150 days to produce tubers and mature. As a result, it isn’t ideal for regions with short growing seasons. However, they also grow well in containers, raised beds, or garden beds.

The Growing Zone: Zonings 7-10 are ideal for growing Jicama.

Requirements for the sun: Jicama is native to Mexico, where it prefers a lot of sunlight. Like potatoes, jicama plants are daylight-sensitive, so getting enough sunlight is vital to their growth. If you plant at the wrong time, your harvest may be limited. In addition, winters in short summer areas may require covering and protecting jicama plants to prevent frost damage.

Requirements for soil: Choose a location with rich, fertile, well-draining soil with a pH above 7.0. Planting this vegetable requires plenty of well-rotted manure, so work it into the soil before planting.

Planting seeds: Seeds or tubers must be used to grow Jicama, as jicama seedlings are unlikely to be available for purchase. In your area, you should begin sowing seeds at least 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Jicama seeds need warm soil to germinate, so you can use a heat mat indoors to help. It is possible to direct-sow seeds in warm climates and the spring as long as there is no danger of frost. To increase the chances of germination, soak the seeds in water overnight.

Tubers are starting to grow: Taking a cue from Jerusalem artichokes, they will sprout again if left in the ground in the spring.

Transplanting: After the plants have hardened off, replant them in the ground about a week later. Jicama will be planted a few weeks after all frost has passed and the soil temperature reaches 50°F.

Support and spacing: A space of at least 8 inches between jicama plants is recommended. If you don’t provide some structure to hold the vines, then the plant will topple over. Feel free to let the spread along the ground. If so, give them 24 inches between plants.

Watering: Water well, and don’t let the soil dry out. Jicama needs plenty of water to grow.

Weeding: To avoid competition, you need to remove the weeds as soon as possible, but you should not harm the roots.

Fertilizing: Utilize a high-nitrogen fertilizer once a month up until harvest to feed the jicama plants. Jicama is a greedy plant.

Pruning: According to some gardeners, plucking jicama flowers will encourage tuber growth. To see if it improves your harvest, you might want to give it a shot. Don’t let the plant flower.

How to grow Jicama plants in containers/pots

Seeds or seedlings are sometimes planted in containers, although it isn’t expected. We recommend placing one seedling per 12 by 12-inch pot or container. So, the root vegetables can grow in space. Additionally, it would help ensure the container can support a trellis system, as it will be necessary to keep the plant healthy.

How to harvest Jicama

The jicama plant is sensitive to daylight. A day-length sensitive plant’s life cycle is influenced by the number of hours of sunlight it receives. Jicama plants are stimulated to produce edible tubers as the days shorten in the fall. An average of nine hours of daylight will be required to form the tubers. It occurs close to frost dates in temperate regions, so you may need to protect your plants from the first light frosts of fall to encourage larger tubers. Too early harvested tubers will be smaller. You can cover your vines with frost cloth or old sheets to prevent them from freezing. Tubers of Jicama, another edible tuber, become ready for harvest when the above-ground plants die. Harvest tubers as soon as possible and in the largest size. It is ideal to have a diameter of three to six inches. Plants are surrounded by soil that needs to be lifted with a garden fork. Look for tubers in the soil. Lightly brush the soil from them after removing them from the soil. Avoid washing your hands if you intend to store them instead of using them right away. The moisture will cause mold to form, causing them to spoil and be unusable. Would you please wait until you are ready to use the tubers before washing them?

How to grow Jicama in your garden

  • You can plant seeds or transplants as soon as the weather warms up.
    • Plant your trees in an area that gets plenty of direct sunlight and has a trellis.
    • Separate each plant by approximately 12 inches. The roots of each plant are approximately four to five.
    • Jicama grows best in moist, well-drained soil.
    • Fertilize your Jicama with a fertilizer rich in potassium.
    • Trees, flowers, seeds, and leaves of the jicama plant are poisonous, making them resistant to pests. Therefore, humans shouldn’t consume those parts mentioned above, but only the root.
    • Regularly water your plants.

Caring for Jicama plants

Water the jicama seeds lightly:  After you plant, water the soil after it becomes dry. Even if the soil is dry, do not saturate the seeds with water. Once the water has been sprinkled, the soil should feel moist. Watering can help you control how much water you apply to the soil. Every month, they fertilize Jicama. Multipurpose fertilizers are available. The specific instructions for fertilizing depend on what is written on the fertilizer’s package. Fertilizer is typically applied

around the base of the plant. There are many home improvements stores and nurseries where you can buy fertilizer.

Plant the jicama plant with stakes: The jicama vine is pretty tall, so it will need support as it grows. It is recommended to stake the vines once they are about 24 inches long (61 cm). Next to the jicama vine, plant wooden tomato stakes about 4 inches (10.2 cm) deep in the soil. Loosely tie each plant with twine.

Daily check for dry soil on your jicama plants: Jicama grows best when the soil is kept wet. Make sure the soil is healthy by putting your hand in it or gently digging into it. Water your Jicama only when the soil feels dry. Overwatering does not suit this plant.

Deadhead the blooms:  Removing the tiny flowers on the Jicama is necessary. By removing the flowers, roots grow more quickly. You can remove them with your hands, scissors, and pruners.

There is no need to worry about pests:  Pest problems are unlikely to occur during the growth of Jicama. It is poisonous due to its flowers, seeds, and leaves. However, remove the pests yourself or use an organic pest spray if you find a pest problem. Before purchasing pesticides, make sure you are targeting the right pest.

Pests, diseases, companion plants for Jicama

As soon as your jicama plants are established, there isn’t much that can hurt them. Their soil is not affected by aphids or other garden pests. Specifically, rotenone is present in the stems, leaves, and seeds. Therefore, do not let your garden helpers eat this plant. Plants that support each other grow better are called companion plants. Carrots Love Tomatoes is a beautiful book about companion planting (a must-read for any vegetable gardener). Vining plants require plenty of space, so they’re best planted separately from other plants in the garden to prevent their vines from interfering with them. According to one seed company, Jicama is best grown with corn for support and companionship. In addition to beans, sunflowers, ginger, and cilantro, there are other good choices.

Problems and Solutions for growing Jicama plants

Jicama is generally a trouble-free plant. The most challenging aspect of growing Jicama is having enough patience to wait for the tuber to mature. Do not disturb the soil’s growth by digging. Plants that are protected from frost and whose timing is right will thrive.

Weevils: Jicama plants may attract weevils, but these insects pose a minor threat to the plants. Weevils you see can be drowned in soapy water if they are picked up.

Fungal Diseases: There is a possibility that fungi will infect Jicama. In general, water at the base of plants keeps plants well-spaced and water in the morning, so the plants have time to dry out. Using a fungicide may also help if conditions do not improve.

Bacterial Blight: Your growing jicama leaves may be affected by bacterial blight if they show small, water-soaked spots. Watering at the base of plants is a better alternative to spray irrigation, thus preventing water from spreading. In addition, avoid walking through your garden when the soil is wet. Copper-based sprays are effective at removing them.

Tips for Growing Jicama Plants

  • Jicamas are sometimes grown in vegetable gardens or large pots once they reach a specific size, but the ornamental value of these plants is limited.
  • Jicama can also be cultivated in polyethylene tunnels if the growing season is short and excellent. Again, the environment around the plants will be heated while pests are kept at bay.
  • Place the Jicama in a sunny area with a sturdy trellis on which to climb.
  • Jicama plants need warm soil that is well-drained and rich in nutrients 12 inches apart.
  • Make your native soil healthier by adding several inches of compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Jicama overgrows if the soil is too wet. Therefore, feed it with a portion of continuous-release plant food regularly.
  • When the first frost arrives, harvest Jicama approximately 150 days after planting.

Commonly asked questions about growing Jicama plants

1. Jicama grows during which season?

Jicama needs lots of sunlight since it’s a tropical plant. So, choose a spot where the plants can grow, undisturbed, for the whole summer since it has a long growing season (150+ days). Sandy soil that drains well is ideal for growing Jicama.

2. Jicama, can you eat every day?

Risks associated with Jicama. It is only safe to eat the flesh of the root vegetable itself. Jicamas are poisonous when their skin, stems, leaves, or seeds are exposed.

3. What is the best place to grow Jicama?

Jicama will grow well in areas of warm climate in central and south America, or USDA zones 7–10.

4. Can I use something else instead of Jicama?

Try radish or Jerusalem artichoke as a raw substitute for Jicama. If you want to substitute a cooked meal, try water chestnuts since both raw and cooked, they are nearly identical.

5. Is it possible to substitute potato for Jicama?

A good potato substitute, Jicama is mild in flavor, so it’s excellent in stir-fries, stews, or mashed potatoes.

6. What are the best ways to pick Jicama?

Keep your eyes peeled for heavy specimens but stick with medium-sized tubers: Jicama tubers can be significant (huge), but the larger ones are more likely to be dry and fibrous. Jicama can be kept unwrapped in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 7. Jicama plants produce how many fruits?

Unless you start many plants from seed, there is no tennis ball-sized tuber per plant. However, leaving the tuber over several seasons will increase and become as large as a small melon.

8. What is the best way to store Jicama for long-term storage?

The storage of Jicama should last as long as two months when stored correctly. The temperature should be between 53 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit while storing them. The location must be dry and not wet.

 9. Is it possible to grow Jicama in partial sun in a container?

 Despite being grown in large containers – at least 5 gallons – they are a tropical full-sun plant that requires six hours of direct sunlight a day.

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