Yams, native to more tropical climates in South and Central America, can be grown in Canada and northern areas with preparation and some dedication. Surprisingly, there are some commercial growing operations in Canada, mostly along Lake Erie. Yams are much like the senior citizen that will spend summers in Canada and travel south for winter. They like a warmer climate and do not tolerate freezing temperatures. For this reason, planting must take place when there will be adequate warm temperatures for three to four months.
Set up the soil for planting. Turn the soil with a rotary tiller, loosening the dirt. Add 6 inches of compost and turn the soil with the rotary tiller again, working the compost into the soil. Elevate the planting surface with the compost offering more room to grow larger tubulars. Begin the planting process in early May to avoid the first frost.
Dig a hole for the cutting 1 foot deep. Remove all of the leaves from the cutting except for the uppermost leaves. Leave the nodes on the stem. Place the cutting into the soil with only the top leaves exposed. Firm the soil around the cutting and dig a small reservoir around the base of the cutting. Separate cuttings by 18 to 24 inches. Place rows 3 feet apart.
Spread mulch around the base of the cuttings 1 to 2 inches deep. Apply mulch to the entire planting area.
Water the cuttings regularly. Supply enough water to maintain a moist soil. Do not overwater. This will create root rot.
Protect the vines from any late season frost. Cover the vines with an old sheet or straw if the nighttime temperature is going to drop below 50 degrees F. Uncover them once the frost has disappeared.