There are plenty of unusual root vegetables to try growing if you’re feeling adventurous. Scorzonera and salsify are both long, tapering roots with an attractive, subtle flavor. Hamburg parsley, as its name suggests, is a member of the parsley family but one grown for its roots rather than its leaves. And horseradish is the hot, pungent ingredient that gives horseradish sauce its special, sinus-clearing quality.
Salsify – Sow seeds outdoors in April or May in light, well-drained soil — the roots must be able to grow through it easily. Salsify won’t grow well in compacted or waterlogged ground. Harvest in the autumn if the roots are thick enough. If not, leave them in the ground over winter and life them the following spring. When cooked, they have a mild, oysterlike flavor.
- Scorzonera – Sometimes called black salsify, scorzonera can be grown from seed sown in spring, in the same way as salsify. It grows slowly, however and can be left in the ground until the autumn after next — a full eighteen months. Like salsify, it’s a vegetable that’s per
haps harder to prepare for cooking than it is to grow. It’s long, skinny roots are hard to peel, so it’s best to skin them after they’ve been boiled.
Hamburg parsley – These roots look like parsnips, taste like parsnips, and are grown like parsnips. Sow seeds direct outdoors in March or April as soon as the soil is workable. Weed and water in summer, then harvest at any time from September through to the following spring.
- Horseradish – It’s hard to grow horseradish from seed. Instead, propagate it by dividing an existing plant, or by taking or buying a root cutting called a “thong.” Plant it in spring and in the first year dig up the roots for harvesting in the autumn. Once established, harvest as and when you need it.