Yacons are a plant in the sunflower family typically grown in the South American Andes for their large, potato-like tuber¬†that tastes like a cross between an apple and a carrot. Even though they’re perennials in warm climates, you can grow them even in cooler zones as an annual.
In the fall, when the flower stalks die back, is when it’s time to harvest. Due to the yacon’s¬†large size, you may need to tag-team this effort with a friend: One person will need to dig around the plant while the other pulls it out of the ground. You’ll likely break off parts of the root during the process, but don’t worry about that. The only way to get the entire root out of the ground unblemished is with heavy-duty equipment.
While you’re harvesting the yacon tubers you’ll also want to pay attention to the rhizomes, as well. These are the purple nodules at the base of the stalk that are used to propagate the plant. You can harvest these and overwinter them indoors to be planted the following growing season. Just cut back the stalk as much as possible after removing the tubers, and place them in a bucket of sand to store in a root cellar. Don’t detach the rhizomes from one another as they need to be connected to stay viable.
Once you get into a good harvest rhythm, yacons are a sustainable crop that you’ll never have to purchase seeds for again.