How to Grow Salsify
Tragopogon porrifolius – Vegetable Oyster
A hardy biennial which is grown as an annual for the fleshy white roots which are ready from October onwards. It is not much grown in Britain but it can be a useful winter vegetable with roots which are said to taste like oysters. If roots are left in the ground until the spring they will send up new shoots (chards) which are quite tasty when cooked like asparagus.
Soil and fertilizer requirements
Salsify grows best on ideal ‘root crop’ soils which are deeply cultivated and moisture retentive.
Seed sowing and crop management
When thehas dried out in April sow the seed thinly into 2-cm (1-in) deep drills 40cm (16in) apart. Thin the out to 20cm (8in) apart when they are large enough to handle. Weeds must be kept down by hoeing but take care not to damage the roots as the delicate flavour is impaired if the roots ‘bleed’. Plants may ‘bolt’ in dry seasons so be prepared to water them.
Roots will be ready from October onwards. Ideally they should be 5cm (2in) wide at the crown and 25cm (10in) long. They can be left in situ and lifted as required or they can all be lifted in the autumn and stored in boxes in the same way as carrots.
Pests and diseases
Fewattack salsify but white blister is caused by a fungus and develops as pustules on the leaves.
‘Mammoth’ may be boiled, baked or used in soups.