a sample winter harvest


A winter harvest of kale, parsnips and salsify, cleaned and ready to cook.

Planting and planning last summer has left me with a fair amount of produce to harvest in January. When there’s fantastic summer produce options to ponder (e.g. tomatoes and cucumbers), I find it weird to be thinking what I could plant to be ready mid-winter, however, come January, when I look out into the garden I’m glad I did.

The photo shows what I harvested on the weekend – lots of kale, parsnips and salsify. Salsify, or oyster root, looks like dark, hairy sticks. I’ve grown them the last three years, and this is the first year I had a crop worth harvesting. They were a pain to dig up as the roots are really long and thin. Even when I put the shovel aside and dug with my hands, I think I broke each and every one – and digging with my hands this time of year is unpleasant. Scrubbing black dirt off the black roots was almost as bad as digging them up – then I had to peel the thin roots. By the time they were ready to cook, I hated salsify for the work it created.

Since it was our first taste test, I simple cut them up and roasted them with a bit of oil. They don’t taste like oysters, or have a strong flavour at all. They do, however, have a really interesting texture that was quite pleasant. I didn’t mind eating them and my significant other was keen that I grow them again. I’m willing if there is a way to grow grow salsify that reduces the labour in harvesting them. Any ideas? Sandy soil in a bucket perhaps?