Sium - Skirret, Water Parsnip
DESCRIPTION: This vegetable, the Skirret or Water Parsnip, was once popular in the American colonies, but is rarely grown now. If you enjoy Root Parsley and Salsify, you should try Skirret. This hardy perennial provides a cluster of knobby, sweet tasting roots in the autumn and winter, from which grow rosettes of feathery leaves.
POTTING: These plants need rich, deeply dug ground. The plants should be spaced 8 to 12 inches apart. Each plant will furnish a cluster of roots to divide for propagation the following spring. In late fall or winter, before the ground freezes, the roots may be dug up and the tops cut off. Lay the roots on the ground and cover with straw that's held down with chicken wire. You can also store the roots in moist sand in a cold, but not freezing, cellar. Skirret will overwinter in most regions, but the best roots are the young ones taken from the first growing season.
PROPAGATION: Sow the seeds directly outside in good soil in mid-spring, except in the South, where late summer in better. Poor seed germination and slow sprouting are common problems with this vegetable. It is advantageous to start your seeds indoors. Sow the seeds in peat pots to lessen the shock of transplanting.
VARIETIES: A few seed companies offer Skirret seeds usually by the species. It's easy to propagated Skirret by divisions. Ask friends and neighbors for "starts."
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