Skirret (Sium sisarum) is a historically interesting and tasty root crop. Not particularly high yielding, but forgiving and perennial. After two years, or perhaps one in really favorable conditions, you get a small clump of thin, white, carrot-like roots. Flavors are subjective, but I find that it has a flavor somewhere between carrot and parsnip. It likes wet, shady conditions, so it may give you a food crop in areas that otherwise don’t get much use.
Seeds have a good germination rate, but are slow to get started. Give it two months – some will germinate in a week, others after you are sure there is no hope. A soil temperature of 70 degrees seems to be optimal, so if you are going to direct sow, don’t start them too early. Skirret will also happily transplant, so if you start them inside about 60 days before your last frost, you can have seedlings ready to go. Once you have a plant, you can propagate it vegetatively with ease, although this is another uncommon plant that would really benefit from some more enthusiasts growing it from seed on a regular basis.
Group 1 includes only plants grown from seeds of the few that survived a serious disease event here in 2014. These plants are the clone that we offer as offsets. The population had already been selected for improved root size and now hopefully also carries improved disease resistance. I think that the disease that the parent plants survived was celery blight, but I’m not certain.
Group 2 seed is collected from our entire skirret population, with the exception of those in Group 1. This includes plants from seven different sources: three genebank accessions, two wild collections from Europe, and two varieties obtained as superior clones. As far as I’m aware, this is the greatest skirret diversity available anywhere. This mix should be of primary interest to breeders. For the more casual skirret grower, Group 1 seed is likely to provide superior results.