Scorzonera is a slow-growing root crop, sometimes called black salsify, thought the plants are related except in their care. Like salsify, it is usually grown for winter storage, though it is even less well known. We out scorzonera 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 most commonly available cultivar is Belstar, though we also grown Duplex and Gigantia.


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