Salsify is an “old-fashioned” root crop, that is not commonly grown in home vegetable gardens. And, that’s because many people have not even eaten it. Isn’t it about time you did!? So, learn how to grow salsify plants, and then get growing!
Although Salsify is slow-growing, it is worth the wait. Grow this root crop similar to carrots. The plants have grass-like leaves and purple flowers. It is grown for its long, thick root, growing up to a foot in length. It can be peeled and cooked like mashed potatoes.
Salsify is also called the Oyster Plant and Vegetable Oyster, for its oyster-like flavor.
Did You Know? Salsify is related to dandelions and chicory.
There are not many varieties of salsify plants. The most common variety is Mammoth Sandwich Island.
While Salsify plants are classified as biennials, they are grown as annuals.
Botanical Name: Tragopogon Porrifolius, Biennial
This cool weather plant, is very cold tolerant.
Directly sow Salsify seeds into the garden, as early as the ground can be worked in the spring.
Sow seeds 1/2″ deep and 1 to 2 inches apart.
Final spacing should be 6-10 inches apart.
Seed Germination: 7-21 days.
Garden Tip: Sow a few fast-germinating radish seeds along the row to act as a row marker.
Salsify is slow growing, yet it is an easy to grow root crop.
It is a cool weather plant, that tolerates cold weather and frost.
The roots need loose, deep soil for best growth. Before sowing seeds, prepare the soil to a foot deep. Remove rocks and hard debris up to a foot deep.
Fertilize at planting, and again in mid-summer, with a general-purpose fertilizer. Do not over-fertilize the plants. Over-fertilizing can cause forked and split roots.
Keep plants well and deeply watered, especially in droughts and hot weather. Dry soils can cause roots to become tough and fibrous.
It is important to keep the plants well weeded, especially when the plants are young. Weeds can overcrowd slow-growing Salsify.
The plants grow best in cool weather. Shade plants in hot weather, over 85 degrees.
Ideal Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.0
Plant Problems – Eventually, every gardener experiences a problem or two. So, read up on how to avoid problems before they occur.
Soil Temperatures – In fact, each plant has a specific, ideal soil temperature for maximum seed germination.
Salsify roots are seldom bothered by insects or pests. But, carrot maggots can be an occasional problem.
Plants are basically disease-free. However, Salsify leaves can rot in humid weather, especially if they are planted too closely.
Days to Maturity: This is slow-growing plant requires 110 – 150 days to reach maturity.
If possible, wait to harvest roots until after the first frost. Cold weather improves the flavor.
Do not try to pull up roots by the stems. Dig deeply around roots with a spade, to avoid breaking the roots.
Brush off roots and remove the stems. Place in a cool, dry place to dry for a few weeks. Or, store it in the refrigerator.