When To Sow: March-April; late autumn (overwintering) Harvest: September-October
Germination: 7-21 days Full Sun
Salsify prefers light, free-draining soil, free of stones and dug down to at least a foot in depth. Like carrots and other plants with long taproots, salsify is best seeded in place and doesn't respond well to transplanting.
Sow two weeks before the last frost of the season, in April to May. In areas without frosts they can be sown in autumn or from February onwards. Sow the seeds 12mm (½”) deep. Keep the soil moist throughout germination, and be patient—salsify seeds can take 2-3 weeks to germinate. Thin out the weaker seedlings and leave the stronger plants 10cm (4”) apart.
Salsify needs little in terms of feeding, so unless you’re growing in particularly poor soil, a bit of compost at planting time should be enough for the year.
To avoid split roots, water often and regularly, never letting the soil dry out completely. Use mulch to retain moisture and discourage weeds.
Salsify requires very little maintenance and is rarely attacked by pests. As it does not grow very fast, keep it well weeded, making sure to not touch the crown of the plant.
Salsify roots can be harvested once they reach about 30cm (12”) in length, usually from mid-October onwards. In loose soil you can simply pull them up by the tops. In harder soils, however, this method can break them, so use a bit of patience and a garden fork.
Salsify’s hardiness allows it to be left in the ground after the frost arrives. A later harvest also means more flavour in your roots, so as long as your ground doesn’t freeze solid you can dig up fresh salsify all the way through spring. Otherwise, harvest in November and store as you would carrots.
Salsify grows well with other root crops, mustard greens and carrots