The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Skirret Update 1


Here’s a photograph I took today of my rather untidy skirret (Sium sisarum) bed.

Skirret bed
Skirret bed

It’s a bit hard to see the skirret plants but they are in there – between the frame on the left and the leafy scorzonera on the right, nestled amongst some weeds and the silverweed plants I grew as groundcover – a few of them holding their dried umbellifer stalks aloft.

I dug them up today to compare their root size with the harvest from last year.

This year's skirret roots
This year’s skirret roots


Last year's skirret roots
Last year’s skirret roots

I’m pleased with the results. I don’t think any are fatter than the 15mm wide root I measured last year but there were more fat, long roots and overall they were somewhat straighter. I didn’t manage to dig up the whole length of the roots – they tended to break off at a spade’s depth!

Broken skirret root - 25cm long.
Broken root – 25cm long.

The improvement is probably a result both of selecting the clumps of the thickest roots to divide and replant last autumn and of making the soil lighter, richer and moister with the addition of sand and a mulch of garden compost. (They are  noticeably less ‘hairy’ too – I’m not sure but I’m thinking this is because the plants didn’t have to produce such a mass of fine lateral roots this year as a response to low soil moisture). I replanted divisions from the most promising clumps again and as I don’t think the silverweed ground cover has been to their detriment, I popped some silverweed transplants down the centre of the bed too. (I did the ‘harvesting and replanting the fattest’ routine with the silverweed too – would be great if this most adorable of rampant weeds became another rewarding perennial vegetable!)

Replanted skirret bed
Replanted skirret bed

I brought the remaining roots home to cook – not sure what we’re going to do with them yet – maybe sweet skirret mash this time! (Here is my post on skirret from last year for more information on this ‘being-rediscovered’ vegetable. Second skirret update here and skirret pasties here.)

N.B. 28/11/14 Some time after replanting the fattest skirrets I realised that, apart from a couple of offsets in there from a skirret plant I bought this year from Deaflora nursery, I was only making a second more exacting selection of the original seed-grown plants. I have collected some seed though and have a few gaps in the bed to insert any seedlings I manage to grow to provide some variety for future selections.

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