Salsify (Sandwich Island)

AT A GLANCE

Also known as the known as the ‘Oyster Vegetable’, salsify is an old-fashioned heritage root with a sweet, nutty flavour slightly reminiscent of oysters. Tasty and easy to grow, salsify tastes great in soups, baked, boiled, or fried.

More details

SunFull
Germination7 - 20 Days
Sowing MethodDirect to Ground
Days to Maturity240 Days
Seed Count100
Recommended Soil pH6.5-7.5

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Salsify is a hardy biennial that produces both greens and an edible root in the first year. An extremely hardy plant, it can over winter in many climates and once planted, can be harvest all the way through early spring. Unlike most garden vegetables, the tops of salsify tend to spread and look more like a clump of grass than anything else. The roots are beige, about the size of a large carrot, and bumpy like a parsnip.

Salsify is grown mostly for its roots, though the young shoots are also quite tasty, as are the flowers and flower buds. Unlike carrots or parsnips, salsify is both extremely easy to germinate and to care for. The plants are both generous and resilient, and when left as a biannual, offer up stunning flowers their second year.

Starting out

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.

Direct Seed: 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.

Sowing Seeds Direct Outdoors
Thin week plants

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.



Maintenance

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

Growing in the ground
Harvest Veg

Harvesting

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.


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