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Jicama Varieties

Man Planting in the moist ground

Throughout my meal box days, I have had jicama. Despite the fact that I don’t have meal boxes anymore, jicama has now become a must have for cultivating in my garden. Most people normally munch on the cool veg sliced raw but it is a lot more adaptable in the kitchen than you may imagine.

Jicama is a delicious crunchy vegetable with a taste profile similar to a radish but much milder. The tuber-like vegetable originated from Central America, notably Mexico, and is a cousin of the bean family.

It grows similar to a potato; except instead of erect leaves, it has fast-growing vines. All non-tuber components of the plant, like the lowly potato, are toxic and inedible.

Jicama (Pachyrrhizus erosus, Greek for “thick root”) is a legume and taproot that belongs to the Fabaceae (pea) group (including beans, peanuts, and licorice). It’s also known as yam bean stem, sweetened turnip, Mexican turnip or even Mexican potato, among other names.

Jicama is also known as kuzuimo in Japanese and dolique tubereaux or pais patate in French, and sankalu in India. Don’t confuse it with the identically called African yam bean, an annual bush bean plant that may be eaten by both the seeds and the roots.

Origins

Jicama has long been cultivated in Mexico, as well as Central and South American nations. However, its origins are unknown. It is also grown in the Indies and was brought to the Philippines by Spaniards in the past centuries, where it became a prominent ingredient in Asian cuisine, typically as a replacement for water chestnuts or bamboo shoots.

Jicama is a vegetable with brownish skin and pale flesh, similar to potatoes. Jicama is a luscious, sweet, nutty-flavored delight that may be eaten fresh and raw (after peeling the skin) or cooked, unlike its root cousin.

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Jicama, which has a texture and taste similar to a water chestnut, will keep its sharpness even after boiling. It’s a popular ingredient in a variety of recipes, as well as a crisp raw snack that tastes like an apple. Its taste has been compared to watermelon by some.

Although some small-scale jicama cultivation has been successful in California, Hawaii, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, the majority of commercial jicama exports to the U.S. and Canada originate from Mexico. Though peak season is in the late autumn, jicama is accessible all year because to shipments all the way from Mexico to Central America.

Varieties

The two main kinds of Jicama are Jicama de agua (or water), and Jicama de leche (or milk) are the two main kinds,  called to distinguish the interior fluid. The water type of Jicama is the most popular in the United States, having a huge spherical root that resembles a turnip.

The second milk variation, which is less common, has elongated, knobby roots with white juice.

Jicama Seedlings

Is it difficult to cultivate jicama? The answer is totally dependent on where you grow it. It grows well in hot climates with a lengthy growing season.

A jicama plant takes more than 150 days to mature and yield tubers. As a result, it isn’t suitable for places with a short growing season. In garden beds, elevated beds, or containers, the plants thrive.

Prerequisites for Sun Exposure

Jicama is a Mexican plant that thrives in direct sunshine. Because jicama plants, like potatoes, are light-sensitive, the quantity of sunshine they get is critical.

If you plant at the incorrect time, your yield will be limited. To avoid frost damage and ensure a decent harvest, you will need to protect jicama plants.

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Requirements of the Soil

Choose a spot that has well-drained, rich and fertile soil with a pH of at least 7.0. Because this produce requires a lot of nutrients, add enough well-rotted manure to the ground before planting.

Seeds for Planting

Jicama seedlings are unlikely to be available for purchase. Therefore, you’ll have to start from seeds or tubers.

Start seedlings at minimum 8-10 weeks before your area’s last frost date. Jicama seeds like hot soil, so use a heating pad inside to assist germination.

Seed may be straight sowed in the springtime or all year if no freeze is forecasted in warmer climes. Soaking the seeds may help them germinate more quickly.

Tubers in the Ground

Similar to Jerusalem artichokes, if you retain roots in the soil from the current growing season, they will sprout again the next spring.

Transplanting

Allow plants to harden off for approximately a week before planting them. Plant Jicama once all dangers of frost have gone, and the soil temperature has reached 50°F.

Support and Spacing

Plants of the Jicama family should be placed at least 8 to 10 inches apart. Without support, the creeping vine plant will tumble over, so you’ll need to construct some form of structure to keep the vines in check.

Feel free to let the spreading sprawl over the ground. Give them 24-inch spacing between plants in that scenario.

Bits of Soil Present on a Shovel

Jicama’s Upkeep

Watering

Keep the soil moist, and don’t let it dry out. Jicama requires a lot of water.

Weeding

To avoid competition, remove weeds as soon as possible, but be cautious not to disrupt the developing roots.

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Fertilizing

Nourish jicama crops once a month with a high-nitrogen fertilizer till harvest. Jicama is a plant with a voracious appetite.

Pruning

According to some gardeners, picking blooms from the Jicama bush promotes tuber development. It’s worth a shot to see whether it boosts your yield. Allowing the plant to grow to seed is not a good idea.

Jicama Growing Issues and Solutions

Jicama is a relatively trouble-free plant. The most difficult aspect of cultivating jicama is having the option to wait for the bulb to develop. Don’t disturb the soil’s development by digging! If you safeguard the plant from cold and time it correctly, you’ll have a good chance of succeeding.

Weevils

Jicama plants may attract weevils, although they are seldom a severe issue. Pick up any weevils you come across and submerge them in water and soap.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections may harm jicama plants. Water near the base of plants, maintain seedlings well-spaced, and water early in the morning to allow plants to dry out. If things don’t improve, you can apply a fungicide.

Bacterial Blight Disease

You may have bacterial blight if you see little, water-soaked patches on the undersides of your developing jicama leaves. The easiest method to avoid it is to keep water from spreading. Therefore, avoid using spray irrigation and instead irrigate at the plant’s base. Also, if the dirt in your garden is damp, don’t walk across it.

The Best and Worst Plants to Accompany Jicama

To avoid its vines interfering with other garden crops, the spatially hungry vining plant should be grown apart from others. Growing Jicama alongside maize as a partner and support structure is recommended by one seed manufacturer.

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Bean, sunflower, ginger, and cilantro are other terrific choices to grow it with.

Keep the Jicama plant away from potatoes and tomatoes.

Vegetables Being Pulled from Under the Ground

Jicama Harvesting

If you’ve ever grown potatoes, you’ll notice that the foliage begins to darken and die back when it’s time to harvest. Jicama plants are the same way. Tubers should be around 4-6 inches wide when mature.

Dig slowly, like you would with potatoes, to avoid knocking and injuring the tubers. Since they usually have less time to develop, tubers planted in colder climates are generally smaller.

Harvest only once the plant has totally died back. Otherwise, you’ll wind up having tubers that are very little or non-existent.

If you’re storing tubers, don’t wash them with water. Mold thrives in moist environments. Only wash the tubers when you’re prepared to cook with them. Store them in the same way you would potatoes. It’s best if the setting is cold and dry.

Jicama in the Kitchen

Isn’t it wonderful how delicious veggies can be while simultaneously being nutrient-dense? Jicama is no different. Potassium is abundant in the tuber, as well as vitamin C.

The first time I prepared jicama was to prepare coleslaw as a side dish for a burger. Because I enjoyed the slaw so much, I ended up smearing it immediately on the burger. Jicama mixes nicely with carrot, apples, and celery when eaten fresh in salad form.

Jicama may also be used to add texture to stir-fries. Jicama sticks, cut up, make a tasty snack. It’s also possible to mash and roast the root.

Before consuming Jicama, make sure the skin is removed. It’s not fit to eat.

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Cultivation

Jicama thrives in sunny, moderate areas and is frost-sensitive. Jicama seeds, which resemble bean seeds, should be sown in broad rows in very well loamy soil with enough room (at least a few feet) for the spreading vines (approximately 20 feet) to grow.

Jicama develops as a robust, quickly spreading vine over the ground, with a slow-growing taproot in the soil once planted. With plenty of sunlight and higher temperatures, the best, meaty roots will thrive.

Numerous white or blue hydrangeas will blossom as the stem fills up underground, and bean-like pods will emerge above ground.

For optimum root growth, flowers should be removed early. However, growth is sluggish and takes months, depending on day length (short-day types are the most common) and temperature range.

Pests attack blossoms and pods on occasion, but rotenone holds most predators away (though it is said that immature pods are less toxic than mature pods). After snipping the tough, fibrous skin, just the white meat of the tuber should be consumed.

Jicama is harvested three to six months after planting, occasionally longer, and the rounded root weighs three to six pounds. Jicama can continue to develop in height and weight (up to 40 pounds) if left in the ground, but it will lose its unique sweet taste and become starchier.

Tubers should be solid and devoid of small cuts, as well as cracks and discoloration. To avoid moisture and taste loss, jicama should be kept in a cool, dry place with a saturation of 65 to 70%.

Packaging & Storage

Under cold, dry circumstances, with temperatures up from 54 and 65°F and humidity levels ranging from 65 to 70%, roots may endure for many weeks. Mold will form if there is too much moisture; if the temperature is too low, a chilling injury will cause both exterior and interior damage, including rotting and discoloration (the higher the temperature, the more the damage).

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Jicama would not turn brownish due to oxidation after peeling and slicing. Wrapped in plastic, it may be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

Jicama’s Health Benefits

  • Jicama is a root vegetable that is particularly low in calories. It barely has 35 calories per 100 grams. Despite this, it has a high-quality phytonutrient profile that includes dietary fiber and antioxidants, as well as minor amounts of minerals and vitamins.
  • It is one of the best sources of dietary fiber, with a high concentration of soluble dietary fiber oligofructose inulin. The root pulp contains 4.9 mg of fiber, or 13% of the total. Inulin is a delicious inert carbohydrate with no calories. Jicama is a perfect sweet snack for patients with diabetes and dieters because it does not experience metabolic within the human body.
  • Fresh yam bean tubers, like turnips, are high in vitamin C, with around 20.2 mg (or 34 percent of DRA) per 100 g. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant that aids the body in scavenging damaging free radicals, protecting against cancer, inflammation, and infectious cough and cold.
  • It also includes trace amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid and thiamin, all of which are important B-complex vitamins.
  • The root also contains beneficial levels of vital minerals such as magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese.