Salsify, Mammoth Sandwich Island

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Geography/History:
Salsify is a root vegetable native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, where it has been cultivated and used in food for centuries. This plant has also been widely introduced to other regions of the world, although it is primarily popular in Europe. Some specialty markets carry salsify, especially in the fall, when it is in season, and it can also be grown in a home garden, for people who live between USDA zones six and 10.

Formally, this plant is known as Tragopogon porrifolius, and it also goes by Purple Goatsbeard and Oyster Plant. It has blade-like leaves and slender stalks which produce distinctive purple flowers in the second year of growth. In addition to the root, the greens and stalks are also edible. Salsify root has a slightly oysterlike flavor, explaining one of its common names, and the greens and stalks are mildly sweet.

There are a number of uses for salsify. Young roots can be grated and served on salads, while older roots need to be cooked to soften. The roots can be added to soups and stews, peeled and mashed, or used in root vegetable gratins. The greens can be used raw or cooked in salads and other dishes, while the stalks benefit from a light steaming or quick roasting, much like asparagus.

Nutritional Value:
The root contains vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium and lots of fiber.

Sun:                              Full
Spacing:                      4″ – 6″
Height:                        24″ – 36”
Optimum Soil Ph:    6 to 6.8
Days To Maturity:    120
Sowing Method:       Outdoors

Planting/Growing Tips:
The roots of Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify are about 8 to 9 inches long and tapered. The white flesh of these roots are great for use in soups when peeled and boiled and have a flavor similar to oysters, thus this variety is sometimes called vegetable oyster. A good keeper that can be overwintered! Average water needs. Direct sow outside in early spring. Can be fall planted. Plant 2″ apart and 1/2″ below soil surface. Can sow closer and thin later. Plant Height: 24 to 36 inches.

 

 

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