We had a light freeze a couple weeks ago. The cassava is right up against the house and fairly protected, so only the tops of the bushes died. I decided to dig up one of the plants and see what was going on.
The first thing I noticed when I started digging was the soil quality. When I planted the cassava in June I mulched it with a very deep layer of rotten wood chips, probably six inches deep. That layer has broken down almost completely, there’s only an inch or so of wood chips left on top. The soil life underneath is incredible.
First tip for digging up cassava roots- don’t use a shovel. The roots are brittle with thin skin. I scooped soil out of the way with a trowel until the root ball was exposed, then gently rocked the plant until I could see where all the large roots were. Then I just lifted the plant out of the ground with most of the roots. This is only possible because of the sandy soil!
Then I broke the long roots away and weighed them. I found a few more small roots digging around in the soil with my hands. Six pounds, three ounces of cassava root, just from this one plant! I will definitely have enough to make pasteles!
I trimmed the stems right above the root ball and buried them in mulch. These stem cuttings will root over the winter, and then I’ll plant them out in April. I am thrilled with the yield on these plants. They took almost no care, had no bug problems, look beautiful, and make a great polyculture with climbing field peas. Now, on to the cooking!