Taro in summary :
Latin name : Colocasia esculenta
Common names : Taro, caribbean cabbage, madeira, dream, dachine, malanga
Family : Araceae
Types : Perennial, vegetable
Height : 1 m to 1.50 m
Planting distance : 50 cm
Exposure : Sunny to partial shade
Ground : Non-limestone, loose and humus
Planting : March April
Harvest : December-January
Taro, madeira, dream, dachine, malanga or caribbean cabbage; behind all these names, hides a tuberous perennial plant with many interests. Indeed, she is both aesthetic, with its large heart-shaped leaves, and edible since you can consume its rhizomes and foliage. Native to tropical countries, taro will nevertheless require some attention to enjoy in your garden or your vegetable patch.
An exotic plant par excellence, taro needs certain conditions to flourish:
- a corner at Sun or at the half shade;
- a land rich in organic material (humus) and worked in depth;
- of the heat.
If you live in the south of France or overseas, you can cultivate it without much difficulty. On the other hand, in the other regions, the greenhouse cultivation will have to be privileged to obtain results.
If your soil does not meet the fertility and texture conditions required, you will need to some work during the fall preceding planting:
- make a amendment by spreading manure or well-decomposed compost;
- to lighten the floor, you can also incorporate ashes Of wood ;
- using a spade fork, turn over the soil in depth, so that it mixes well with the manure;
- in the middle of spring, just before planting, lightly rework the soil to loosen it up.
Smart and ecological advice : think of our precious helpers earthworms and avoid using a spade for digging. You will thus limit the negative impacts on soil fauna.
To facilitate recovery and save time, planting is carried out in two stages:
- In early spring (March-April), plant fragments of rhizomes with at least two eyes (buds) in pots containing a mixture of soil and sand. Then place them in the light and warm; the ideal temperature is around 25 ° C.
- In May, when the plants have emerged, you can transplant in the ground. Again, if you live in an area where the temperatures are not high enough, give preference to greenhouse cultivation.
Cultivation and maintenance of taro
Like potatoes, taro requires a slight ridging during the summer. This will promote the production of new rhizomes. To maintain beautiful foliage and support its growth, you will also need to make waterings regular; a fortiori in the event of prolonged drought.
Smart tip : to limit water loss and conserve soil moisture, you can apply a thick mulch at the foot of your sole. Mulch will also help preserve some heat in the soil as winter approaches.
Diseases and pests:
While taro is not particularly susceptible to disease, it can be the target of some parasites and pests such as :
- mites (and more particularly the red spider).
- The ladybug, a gardener's helper
- Nasturtiums against aphids
Harvest and conservation
If possible, harvesting rhizomes must be done at the end of the year. This will give them time to train. Once harvested, they can be keep in sand and cool.
It is nevertheless recommended to eat them quickly after uprooting to take advantage of their taste and nutritional values.
The leaves, as for them, are picked young and are to be consumed immediately.
Taro in the kitchen
If the cultivation of taro may resemble that of the potato, so is the preparation of its rhizomes. You can thus accommodate them by gratins, in soups, to the stove, etc. You will also be surprised by their slightly floury texture and their flavor that can evoke that of chestnuts.
Finally, know that the young leaves can be cooked in the same way as spinach.