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Salsify, also known as Oyster plant or vegetable oyster, is a hardy biennial that is grown as an annual vegetable. It’s related to dandelion and chicory, and its flowers look like lavender chicory blossoms. The edible part is the long taproot.
Salsify‘s fleshy, long, narrow root, something like a very narrow Parsnip in appearance. The roots grow about 15 to 18 inches long· and are about 1½ inches in diameter. Properly cooked, they are a most delicious vegetable, having the flavor of stewed Oysters, hence the reason for the popular name of Oyster Plant.
Growing Salsify from seed
To get the best results from Salsify, deeply, well-worked soil is required. Prepare the ground in the way recommended for Carrots and Parsnips, remembering that the roots are always finer, smoother and more succulent, according to the preparation of the soil. Salsify is more liable to fork than most root crops, and proper soil preparation is essential to success. As with other root crops, ground that has been well manured for a previous crop is preferable to new soil. Sow seed for an early crop Spring, and for a main crop during Summer. Seed can also be sown during the Autumn and the plants carried through the Winter. Plant thinly in drills 12 to 15 inches apart, and when the seedlings are well above the ground, thin out to about 6 to 8 inches between the rows. The roots will be ready for lifting in Summer, when they may be dug for use as required, or lifted and stored in sand or a cellar or some other cool place to prevent the roots shriveling.
During showery weather a little Bone Dust scattered amongst the plants will assist the growth, whilst the hoe or rake must be used frequently to keep the ground loose and open, and to destroy weeds. The leaves of Salsify, when properly blanched, make a very delicious salad, and if required for this purpose, some of the roots may be stored in sand in an upright position, and the leaves gathered as they develop.