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Salsify (Sandwich Island) Seeds


Salsify is a root crop very rarely seen in the shops because it’s not commonly known nowadays and so not popular. Yet the flavour of salsify is considered far superior to that of parsnips which it resembles, although a thinner root. Salsify is often referred to the vegetable oyster due to it’s subtle flavour.

100 Seeds per Packet £1.25

Salsify, a robust biennial, yields both greens and an edible root in its initial year. Possessing exceptional hardiness, this plant can endure winter conditions in various climates and, once established, remains harvestable through early spring. In contrast to typical garden vegetables, the foliage of salsify tends to spread, resembling more of a grassy clump. The roots, beige in colour and similar in size and texture to a large carrot, display a distinctive bumpiness akin to a parsnip.

Preparation is more difficult than the humble parsnip, scalding will make the skin easier to scrape off and then steam or boil until tender. Boiling and then peeling is recommended by some chefs. The difficulties in preparation are repaid with the taste.

You can use salsify in recipes for parsnips but the subtle flavour is best served by just steaming and then serving with melted butter or even Hollandaise sauce.

While primarily cultivated for its roots, the young shoots of salsify are delectable, as are the flowers and their buds. Unlike carrots or parsnips, salsify is usually easy to germinate. When allowed to follow their natural biennial cycle, they present striking flowers in their second year.

Salsify Germination Notes & Tip

Cultivating salsify is very similar to parsnips.

Firstly, you cannot use old seeds. Always use fresh seed each year.

Do not sow too early in the year. They need a minimum temperature of 12ºC to germinate reliably. Ideally direct sow them outdoors in March, April and May when the soil is warm and manageable. Enhance the germination process by utilizing cloches, which help maintain a higher soil temperature during colder days. Avoid sowing salsify seeds in cold or wet soil, as this may hinder proper germination and could lead to potential rotting issues.

Super Salsify Tip

Make some paper pots or use biodegradable pots, fill with multi-purpose compost and shallowly sow 3 seeds per pot. Keep at 18ºC or above for 7 days and then plant out the pots in rows 30cm apart with 15cm between plants. Alternatively 20cm apart each way.

Seedlings should appear quite quickly depending on the weather. Thin to one seedling per pot.

More on growing salsify here


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