According to the Nutrition Society, salsify is rich in minerals and low in calories. This makes it a healthy vegetable and can enrich the menu, especially in winter. If you want to enjoy them especially fresh, you don’t need a lot of space or a green thumb – because the plants are hardy and undemanding in care. Only at the beginning of the cultivation of the garden black root must be very carefully observed a few conditions.
The location should be sunny to partial shade for the salsify. In addition, if the ground water is very high, the soil is very wet or in cold climates, it is recommended to grow on a mounded embankment or in a raised bed to favor the drainage of water and facilitate the harvest even in frost.
The optimal soil for growing garden black root is:
- Loose and not prone to compaction
- Moist but not wet
- Free of stones
- Deeply loosened
High-quality garden soil or plant soil with mature compost to increase the nutrient content and sand to loosen it up is ideal. In addition, the soil should be dug or loosened to a depth of at least 20 to 30 centimeters before sowing.
When choosing seeds should make sure that they are not older than one year. The germination capacity decreases rapidly with time. In addition, the seeds of salsify are quickly brittle due to their stem shape and consistency. They must therefore be handled with appropriate care. If the seeds are to be harvested by themselves, the following procedure is important:
- after harvesting, some salsify are left in the soil.
- following the formation of fragrant flowers, around June or July, the inflorescences ripen and dry. In this state, they resemble the seed heads of the dandelion.
- as soon as the umbrellas open in the middle of the flower, the entire seed stalks are removed and stored in a dry place. It is important to remove the seeds as soon as possible, otherwise they will spread to the surrounding area.
- the environment.
- Pre-growing and sowing
Pre-growing salsify seeds is not recommended, as the seedlings are just as sensitive as the seeds and have difficulty tolerating transplantation.
Therefore, sowing should be done directly in the open ground, between February and March. In regions with very cold climate it can be done even in April. However, the formation of roots is usually favored by early sowing.
The procedure for this is as follows:
- the soil is deeply loosened as mentioned and stones are removed. In preparation, additional mature compost and, if necessary, sand is mixed in.
- seeds are placed one at a time at a depth of two centimeters. A distance of six to ten centimeters between the seeds is sufficient. Between the rows the distance should be between 20 and 30 centimeters.
- if the soil is dry, then watering is washed. Water infrequently thereafter to prevent the seedlings from drying out.
In order to form long and straight salsify as desired, watering should be infrequent, but then alluvial. This also moistens the deeper layers of soil and the roots grow towards the deeper water reserves. Regular watering is only necessary during longer dry periods. Then, however, it is sufficient to water once a week and abundantly.
If the soil has been prepared with compost before sowing, the next fertilizer compost, the next fertilization can wait until late spring or early summer. Additional nutrients are then again provided by compost applied around the plants and lightly worked into the top layer of soil.
Usually, fertilizing once a month is sufficient starting in May or June.
Frost-hardy salsify can be harvested from about October if sown in time. A clear sign of harvest maturity is the withering of the leaves. However, the garden salsify does not have to be harvested in its entirety immediately. Instead, it can be done as needed. In this way, it is possible to harvest the roots gradually over the winter and into the spring. This is done by poking around the roots one at a time with a spade and digging them out. It is important here to penetrate as deeply as possible into the soil. A single salsify reaches a length of about 35 centimeters. The excavation must be correspondingly deep.
Tip: Here, too, the garden black root cultivation in mounded walls proves itself, because with this the harvest is very easy even in frost and the roots can be harvested without much effort.
In winter, there are not always frost-free days when home-grown black salsify can be harvested without problems. Therefore, it can be quite useful to harvest for several meals in advance. This is also quite possible with the salsify. To do this, simply roughly scrape off the soil and place or stick the vegetable in sand. In a cool place, such as the cellar, the roots can be stored in this way for up to three weeks. If the winter vegetables have already been washed, they should be wrapped in newspaper and stored in the refrigerator. However, the shelf life in this case is only up to three days. Alternatively, the harvested salsify from your own garden can be cooked or boiled down.
Pests, diseases and care mistakes
Pests and diseases are not to be expected with salsify. Especially during harvest time, the risk of germs and parasites is extremely low. Care errors, on the other hand, can certainly occur. These are:
- Substrate that tends to compact
- Stones that hinder straight growth
- Wet soil
- Too loose soil
- Lack of nutrients
- Incorrect watering
- Unfavorable planting order
If all factors have been checked and no abnormality is found, the order of planting should be considered. Potatoes, lupins and their related crops are ideal predecessors. They provide good fertilization of the soil. Corn, cabbage and similar crops, on the other hand, are unfavorable predecessors and plant neighbors. They can cause the salsify to split, be “deflected” in the direction of growth and remain very thin. This not only reduces yield, but also makes harvesting and cleaning the winter vegetable more difficult.
Tip: When cleaning salsify, the skin should be protected from the juice. This is because it is extremely sticky and also highly staining.
If a few factors are taken into account when preparing the garden black salsify cultivation, the winter vegetable is extremely easy to care for and requires very little effort apart from a little patience. This is rewarded by the mineral-rich root vegetable with a harvest as needed, from fall to spring, and a low susceptibility to diseases and pests. Even beginners in gardening can therefore dare to cultivate the garden black root.