Skirret: Growing update

Skirret seedlings in the main skirret bed

Twenty-three of our skirret (Sium sisarum) seedlings have survived and appear to be doing well now.  As I detailed previously, we started them in too much shade and in fairly poor soil and they grew very slowly as a result.  (It seems that skirret seedlings grow pretty slowly anyway.)

They are now growing among potatoes from seed that I planted in the same bed, so that it wouldn’t go to waste if the skirrets failed to thrive.  They are three to five inches tall now, but putting on more rapid growth.  I’m not expecting to harvest them this year, so as long as they are able to store enough energy to survive the winter, I’ll be satisfied.

The potatoes actually give some indication of just how slow the skirret growth has been.  These potatoes were started from seed (TPS) a month after the skirrets.  As you can see, they are far larger than any of the skirrets at this point.

The reason, I suspect, is that the bed is in partial shade.  A skirret seedling that we transplanted to a bed with full sun is now about a foot tall.  So, more evidence that this might not be an ideal plant for shady locations, as is often claimed (at least in this climate).  Once they go dormant this fall, I’ll transplant them to a bed in full sun.

Skirret seedling fighting for sunlight in an over-crowded bed
with cucumber, achocha, and seakale

Update: In the week since I wrote this, the foot-tall first year seedling in full sun has flowered.  So, it looks like it is possible to get skirret seeds from first-year plants.  Whether or not that is a desirable trait remains to be seen, but since skirret is a perennial root and typically not harvested the first year, early flowering doesn’t seem like a problem.

Our second year skirret plants are flowering, so I anticipate a seed crop this year, since we still have at least 2.5 months left before the first frost.  That would be great, since I am out of skirret seed and would like to start more seedlings to do a larger selection over the next couple of years.

Flower buds on second year skirret

So far, the recipe for skirret success appears to include full sun, pest protection (primarily single and four-footed pests), plenty of water, and staking in windy locations.

Skirret seeds and offsets are sometimes available in our seed shop.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Cultivariable will not open for sales in 2017. We will be back in 2018. For more information, read the notice at the top of our home page. Dismiss