Growing Salsify at the Allotment

Growing Salsify at the Allotment

Salsify is not as readily available to buy in shops now but was once very popular as the 'superior parsnip' with its subtly flavour; also known as the 'vegetable oyster'.

It looks similar to a parsnip in appearance; however it is easier to germinate and grow. There are black varieties also. These are known as Scorzonera or 'black salsify'. 

Sow directly from April to late May; after the last frosts in light soil. Like other root vegetables, they ideally grow in deep beds or large containers. You can add sand to clay soils to improve it. Manure causes the vegetable to fork.

Sow in rows, approximately 8 inches apart and 1-2 inches deep. You can thin them out as seedlings appear. Salsify will require watering during dry spells and to keep them weed-free.

Salsify should be ready to pull from the autumn; October-November, however they can stay in the ground for you to pull as required and the remaining Salsify should be pulled up by the following February. Alternatively, you can lift them and store them in compost or sand.

The Salsify root vegetable can be boiled, steamed or roasted. Peeling can be tricky due to its tough skin but can be easier if you par boil them first.

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Growing Salsify in Summary

Sowing Salsify

  • Sow directly in deep beds or large containers
  • Sow April - late May
  • Sow in light soil or add sand to clay soil

Growing Salsify

  • Thin out seedlings
  • Water during dry spells
  • Keep weed-free

Harvesting Salsify

  • Lift from October-November
  • Can stay in the ground until following February
  • Store in compost or sand