Salsify is a slow-growing root crop, also known as the “vegetable oyster” because of its unusual flavor. It is usually grown for winter storage, if it is grown at all — many gardeners have never even heard of it! We put salsify in the third part of the rotation, and as long as the soil is deeply prepared there is likely to be little problem growing it. Plant as soon as the ground can be worked in spring, setting the seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in rows eight to twelve inches apart, and thinning the plants to stand four to six inches apart once the second set of true leaves appears.

Since it is slow to germinate, a little radish seed sprinkled in the row will help the salsify break ground and provide a free harvest of radishes. Also, the young leaves of salsify are grasslike, and might easily be yanked out by mistake without the radish seedlings to mark the row. The roots will not be ready for harvest until the late fall, and many gardeners leave them in the ground through the winter, as the cold weather sweetens them considerably.

The only commonly available salsify cultivar is Mammoth Sandwich Island.


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