Pass the salsify please. How often do your hear that at the dinner table? Possibly not often enough might be an appropriate answer. Salsify or Tragopogon porrifolius as botanical experts like to refer to it is a root crop that resembles a hairy-rooted parsnip. Not sold by the description? Well, be of good cheer; it is an almost unknown vegetable that can add tasty variety to the dinner table and, like the parsnip and carrot can overwinter in the ground when mulched. This makes it a source of home grown vegetable goodness all the way into spring.
Salsify is often called “vegetable oyster” for no apparent reason. It does not taste in the least like an oyster; it has a unique and quite pleasant, almost nutty flavor. Like parsnips, it is best when touched lightly by frost but unlike parsnips it is still palatable before frost strikes.
Sow salsify ½ inch deep in early spring, several weeks before the final frost date. It will take 14 days at least for it to germinate, sometimes longer. Salsify does not need a particularly rich soil, and fertilizers are not generally a good idea. Do loosen the soil and add compost though, this will aid root development.
It takes salsify a full 120 days from germination to maturity. During that time regular weeding and watering is essential. Do not let salsify dry out.
Both the root and the greens of salsify can be prepared in a number of surprising ways as well as simply roasted or steamed. All gardeners owe it to themselves and their family to try this underrated and almost unknown vegetable and find out what it is that it has to offer.
Like what you see and want to come back? Just click “+ subscribe”, it’s easy and anonymous!