Sunday, February 11, 2007

Self Seeding Salsify, a plan

What kind of plant is that?

Salsify is a root crop which some say tastes of oysters. It is seeded in the spring much the same way as parsnips and harvested after a few frosts. It can also be left to overwinter like parsnips for an early spring harvast. Like many root crops, it is a biennual (beets, turnips, onions, parsnips, carrots are also biennuals) so that it goes to seed in the next year of growth. This also means that it can be kept in a root cellar for winter use when the ground is frozen. A bonus is that if left to seed, it has a beautiful blue flower.

My crazy plan

I have heard of people allowing salsify to become semi-cultivated, in other words to establish a permanent bed for it. I have interest in doing this for parsnip as well - see overwintering parsnips post for my concerns about this method.

Optimistic Gardener Warning

I love the idea of low input gardening, allowing plants to do their thing. I find that volunteer plants are stronger, for the most part, than transplants.To this end, I have devised a plan:
  1. Work in lots of organic matter into bed.
  2. Plant and thin widely to allow for second year planting
  3. Harvest all weak or off-type plants
  4. Mix in a little compost in the spots just harvested
  5. Leave enough roots to maintain genetic diversity plus some for spring harvest
  6. Next year, seed again (they are biennuals)
  7. Thin new seedlings to permenant spacing
  8. Allow older plants to go to seed and admire flowers
  9. Collect some seeds for insurance purposes and seed sharing
  10. Thin any seedlings that come up
  11. With second year plants, harvest for winter storage and fresh use
  12. In fall, lay down organic mulch to ammend beds
  13. Leave enough roots to maintain genetic diversity plus some for spring harvest
  14. Repeat from step 6.
  15. Seed if not enough volunteers

I hope that doesn't sound too complicated! It is not supposed to be. Keep in mind this is a garden experiment.

And now just for fun, some more unusual root crops which can be stored in a root cellar (from the 1999 version of The 4 Season Harvest. )

  1. scorzonera
  2. root chevril
  3. hamburg parsley
  4. rampion
  5. skirret
I would love pictures of the above unusual root crops from people's own gardens!


That wasn't enough for you? Well the site plants for the future has a list of alternative root crops.

Jackpot -

The Organic Garden seed catalogue (very nicely organized).

A good site on growing salsify

And of course, wikipedia

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