Edible Tubers

Delicious, Nutritious, Edible Tubers

When we think of edible tubers that grow easily in our gardens, potatoes often spring to mind.  But there are so many other hardy, delicious, nutritious plants with edible tuberous roots that are worth trying.  Most don’t need daily attention so they’re perfect for Zone 2 in a permaculture patch.

Here are my top 7 favourites that we’re growing now:

Chinese Potato Plectranthus rotundifolius.

This is a rare herbaceous perennial plant that grows best in moist soil with some afternoon shade in summer.  We have it in a large pot for easy harvest when it dies back in winter.  The small, sweet, underground tubers need to be harvested altogether because they don’t store well in the soil, and can then be cooked in place of regular potatoes.  New plants can be grown by replanting some of the tubers in spring.

Groundnut HopnissApios americana.

This is a climbing legume that grows in full sun and needs a trellis.  It dies back in winter when multiple underground tubers can be harvested to be steamed, mashed, or baked much like potatoes.  New plants can be grown by replanting some of the tubers in spring.

Jerusalem Artichokes Helianthus tuberosus.

This tall, hardy plant has pretty, yellow, daisy-like flowers.  The underground tubers are harvesting in winter when the plant pies back and can be used in place of potatoes.  New plants can be grown by replanting some of the tubers in spring.

Jicama Pachyrhizus erosus.

This is also known as Climbing Yam Bean and is a climbing plant from Central America that needs a trellis.  The large, crisp, sweet underground tubers are harvested in winter when the plant dies back and can be eaten raw or cooked.  The seeds are highly toxic and should not be eaten but should be saved to replant the next season because new plants grow from seeds not tubers.

Yacon Smallanthus sonchifolius.

This is also known as Peruvian Ground Apple and is a hardy, tall plant to 2 metres high.  The sweet, juicy, underground tubers are harvested in winter when the plant dies back and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in place of potatoes.  New plants can be grown by replanting some of the tubers in spring.

Sweet Potato Ipomea batatas.

There are many interesting varieties of sweet potato that can be grown to harvest the underground tubers, or the young succulent leaves.  Here are a few we have in our garden:

    • Hawaiian Sunshine – large tubers with off-white skin and purple flesh, green leaves with bright green stems.
    • Kumara – Polynesian heirloom with large tubers with red skin, cream and purple-streaked flesh, and maple-shaped, dark green leaves with purple stems.
    • Beauregard -large tubers with a red-orange skin,  and moist deep orange  flesh, heart-shaped mid-green leaves with green stems.
    • Molokai Purple – large tubers with a red-purple skin, deep purple flesh, deeply cut green leaves with bright green stems. It is an excellent source of purple pigments (anthocyanins).

Potatoes Solanum spp.

Regular potatoes are not all white.  Here are two colourful varieties we’re growing at the moment:

    • Pink Fir Apple – long banana-shaped tubers with pink skin and creamy waxy flesh that’s great for potato salad.
    • Purple Congo – very hardy, small cylindrical, heirloom potato with deep purple skin and waxy purple flesh that retains its colour when cooked.

Recipes