ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I started out digging swales. This goes back to redesigning my front yard to allow for better water storage in my soil and to prevent erosion. My original plan, based on measurements I took on the coldest day of the year. Brrr.

Garden Plans

I started implementing it, one bucket full of clay soil at a time. You can finally see progress although much more work needs to be done. This was last year's unruly garden, 2016. I had hoped to tidy it up a bit this year.

How does your garden grow?

The Unplanned Sunflowers

So some of those plants are perennials. They have to be dug up and moved. This is much easier while the soil is damp in spring and vegetation is not yet up. I moved the hollyhocks into a row. I pray I got all the sunchokes out. We'll see. And today I had to dig out the skirret and move it out of my new paths.

Work in Progress

I was surprised at how much better the roots were on the front yard skirret, planted in clay versus the herb spiral skirret, planted in coffee grounds. Although both root clusters went deep into the soil and had lots of tubers, the herb spiral skirret was very thin, and had rather useless roots. Too skinny to warrant cleaning. The skirret in the front yard, on the other hand, had some very nice thick roots and looked appetizing. Many broke off during transplanting. I dug extra deep to extract them. If I hadn't, I would have had a bumper crop in the middle of my path. After several washings, I just threw them in water into the fridge so they wouldn't dry out or get slimy.


Chronographia tackled them further with a toothbrush. Once they were clean, they went into the food processor. She made two skirret fritters, one with apple and one with carrots. Hello Yarn supplied the basic recipe. https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/helloyarn/5691749108/ It is easy to adapt to gluten free or for me, skipping the egg due to allergies. They fried up nice. The skirret was sweet to begin with. It was served with a side of yogurt and our favorite chicken, apple and gouda sausages.

Skirret Fritters

This prompted a discussion on facebook. They are a period food for many reenactors. I think they may have even been on "The Supersizers Go", a food comedy out of the UK. This is a recipe from medieval times, http://foodhistorjottings.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/elizabeth-rainbows-skirret-pie.html

The benefit of skirret over parsnips is that it is a perennial. It has multiple roots. It really would be hard to kill once established. The roots break off when the plant is dug, just like dandelions. They grow back. The yield is high. They are crunchy and can be eaten raw. Skirret has lots of nooks and crannies, making it hard to get the dirt off. A toothbrush is the best tool for the job along with lots of water.


I got my seed from Restoration Seeds. I was so afraid they wouldn't germinate. I babied those seedlings. I managed to get six plants. The two in my front yard did the best. I had two in my herb spiral and two in my hugel bed, which I call Middle Earth. https://www.restorationseeds.com/collections/seed-collections/products/perennial-vegetables-collection


I found that skirret attracts many unusual pollinators and was a great benefit to the whole garden. I've since moved one skirret to a new bed in hopes of attracting more bees there. Other youtube videos suggest that skirret is easier to propagate using the root cuttings. I will vouch for that. They really are like that dandelion whose taproot broke off. A friend, who is a master gardener, suggested not letting the skirret go to flower so that the roots would be bigger. This is not necessary and very hard to accomplish. Skirret loves to flower. I did try and noticed no difference. Skirret is like many other perennial root crops, including madder or bloodroot. It must be three years old before the roots are mature enough to harvest. This is why the potato surpassed it in popularity and skirret was forgotten. After tonight's very tasty dinner, I can say it is definitely making a comeback, at least around here!


ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)

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