Mammoth Sandwich Island
120 Days — Salsify remains fairly uncommon in North American markets and restaurants; enjoyed by an elite few. It has many attributes which make a worthy plant to cultivate in your home garden. A native of central and southern Europe, salsify is part of the sunflower family. The mature roots look like a sickly parsnip that is covered in small grassy sprouts. However, the flavor of the long, pale, creamy white skinned root is much more interesting. Some people think that it has a flavor akin to asparagus while others describe it delivering a subtle, delicate oyster flavor.
If you are looking for a fresh vegetable for your winter dinner table, salsify is a hearty root that over winters well. Also called "Oyster Plant," salsify roots can be baked, dipped in batter and deep-fried, or served au gratin
. If you choose to boil them, it is best, for flavor purposes, to leave the light colored skin on until after cooking. Click here
The seeds can take a long time to germinate (up to twenty-one days) and frequently fail to germinate if they are not kept consistently moist until the seedlings are established. Since they are a root crop, they prefer deep, stone-free soil in order to form the straightest, most attractive roots. The roots are hardy and can be left in the ground over winter. In colder climates, you may be required to heavily mulch with straw to protect from freezing. In extremely cold areas, lifting and storing in sand in a root cellar, like other root crops, will be necessary. Refer to the "Cultivation / Harvest Information
" tab for more information.
As a biennial salsify flowers and goes to seed the second year. The blossoms are quite attractive and can make a nice ornamental display in the backs of flower beds. After blooming the flower pods will open up and look like a giant dandelion. Saving seed is as easy to do by simply grabbing the seed heads, after they open but before the fly away, and drying in paper sacks. Each packet contains two grams, which is approximately 195 seeds.