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The salsify (Scorzonera hispanica) belongs to the daisy family (Compositae) and is native to southern Europe, as the botanical species name "hispanica" indicates. Black salsify are perennial plants that are usually cultivated once a year. They are hardy. The up to 40 centimeters long taproots are black on the outside, white on the inside and have a milky meat. In addition to the roots, the shoots and flower buds can be processed. Black salsify contains three times as much iron and calcium as asparagus, plus vitamins B and E. The light green rosette of the salsify with its lanceolate leaves look like overgrown ribwort. In June and July appear on long stems decorative yellow inflorescences that smell of vanilla and dandelion-like seed levels form.

Since black salsify, unlike asparagus, is a cheap and easy-to-cultivate vegetable, it used to be called a "little man's asparagus". Meanwhile, she has emancipated herself - and is also appreciated by many asparagus fans. Not to be confused are salsify roots with the oat roots, which were cultivated very frequently until the Middle Ages. In contrast to salsify, the rods of oat roots become woody faster.

Location and ground

Black salsify thrives best on deep, sandy-humus and well-loosened soils that are not allowed to be too moist. The location should be sunny to partially shaded. If the soil is too wet, it is advisable to install it on dams.

Sowing and planting

They should sow salsify early in the morning, around the end of March to the beginning of April, with a row spacing of about 30 centimeters in approximately one to three centimeters deep seeding beads. The rod-shaped seeds rapidly lose their germination power. Therefore, pay attention to the expiry date on the seed bag and always buy fresh, no more than two years old seed. Loosen the soil well deep into the soil at least four weeks before sowing. Often, germination is delayed and it can take three to four weeks for the seeds to accumulate. After germination, you can isolate the young plants to about seven to ten centimeters distance. Frost seed has also proven its worth, when it is sown in the frozen soil in December and the seeds are covered with a little garden soil. The seeds germinate as soon as the soil thaws. However, if, for example, it freezes again in February, the seedlings will also freeze - so use this method to keep a fleece ready so you can cover the bed when a chilly night is coming.

Plant of salsify

The salsify bears rosette-like, lanceolate leaves


Especially in the early stages, the salsify needs sufficient water. Even during the summer you should keep the soil evenly moist. Best of all, you fertilize the soil before sowing and once or twice during the growing season with organic vegetable fertilizer. As soon as the first heart leaves are visible, it is necessary to thin out the plantlets, ie to remove the weaker ones. Separate the plants in the row to a distance of about seven centimeters, as described in the planting. Chop the soil regularly and remove the weeds in time. You should not remove salsify that is already in its first year and just let it stand. The flowering does not affect the growth of the roots.

Harvest and recovery

From October, when the foliage withers, can be harvested. The fragile roots must be dug up very carefully. It has therefore been proven first to excavate next to each row a narrow deep trench and then press the roots from the other side with a grave fork laterally from the surrounding earth. The roots can be stored in sand basked in cellars. So that they can be harvested at any time in the winter, it is advisable to cover the beds with straw.
Salsify roots are edible as long as the milk juice still flows out when breaking. They have a fine, almond-like aroma and must be peeled like asparagus. Then they can be cooked in salted water or cooked until they are still a bit bite. Provide them with a dash of lemon they remain bright while cooking. Wear the best when peeling gloves, as the milk juice stains the fingers strongly.

Crop rotation and mixed culture

Good neighbors are salad, leek and kohlrabi. The ideal pre-culture is potatoes or a deeply rooted green manure such as lupines. After cabbage or sweetcorn, salsify forms many sideline roots and thrives poorly.


The newer variety 'Meres' forms in deep loosened soil even and almost straight rods. It is tolerant of powdery mildew. Long, smooth and even roots provide 'Hoffmann's Black Post' and 'Duplex'.

Diseases and pests

With the exception of powdery mildew, hardly any diseases or pests appear on salsify.

Video Board: How to Grow Salsify (Oyster Plant) - The Best Veggie You Never Heard Of.

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