Garden black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica)

Garden Life
The garden black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica), also known as the Spanish salsify, belongs to the plant genus of salsifies (Scorzonera) in the group of Composites (Compositae or Asteraceae). It is also known as the “Poor man’s asparagus”. Salsifies originate from Southern Europe; above all from Spain. They are relatives of the dandelion, and were considered until the sixteenth century to be a wild-growing medicinal plant. By the seventeenth century, they had reached Europe, and have since been used as salad or vegetables. Belgium and France are the most important cultivation countries for the black salsify. In Germany, they are only really cultivated in Bavaria.

Cultivation, harvest and storage

The seeds are sown in April. If sown too early, there is a risk that the young plants may suffer from excessive frost. It is also possible to sow them in autumn, but then these plants take up space in your vegetable bed for a further 1 ¼ years.
The harvest begins in October. This extends right into the April of the following year. When harvesting, please ensure that the black salsifies do not break. Otherwise, they will not last as long, and the roots will dry out more easily. A Spading Fork is perfect for digging them out. Wear gloves when harvesting. The sap from any damaged roots is hard to remove, and leaves unpleasant and persistent stains.
Black salsifies sprout rapidly. Therefore it is recommended to prepare these root vegetables as fresh as possible. However, the vegetables can be stored for several days in the refrigerator. 

Photo: © Bernd Jürgens - Fotolia.com