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Skirret Seed Sium sisarum (pack of 100)


A hardy herbaceous root vegetable popular in Tudor and Stuart periods. Sweet clusters of roots can be left in the ground to mature, then harvested for eating and some for re-planting to propagate more roots.

34 in stock


Skirret – Sium sisarum is a hardy herbaceous perennial root vegetable part of the family Apiaceae, that produces a cluster of sweet tasting slender roots. Skirret dates back centuries, pre-dating the potato, and were one of the main root crops eaten across Europe before potatoes were introduced. They fell out of favour because potatoes were easier to prepare, not because of the taste. Flavour is somewhere between a parsnip and a carrot with a hint of pepper. They were popular in Tudor and Stuart periods and were used in sweet and savory dishes. This is seed from a diverse mix of plants and we collect fresh seed every autumn.

How to grow

Skirrets are best sown in spring under cover, but can be sown through the summer months too. Sprinkle skirret seed thinly in a tray of compost and cover with a light layer of compost. They will take 3-4 weeks to germinate but they can be erratic germinators with some germinating immediately and others taking quite a few weeks, so don’t worry if you don’t see seedlings appearing right away. Giving them bottom heat from a heated propagator or heat mat can help speed up germination.
Alternative method: Soak and stratify
This method really helps with maximum germination. Soak seeds for 24 hours in water, drain, discard any seeds that are floating and keep all the seeds that have sunk. Sow thinly in a small tray of moistened compost and cover lightly with compost. Place in a plastic bag in the fridge for 7-10 days. Remove from fridge and then give the seedlings warm conditions as above ( with a heated propagator) or warmth in spring in a polytunnel or greenhouse should suffice. The soak and stratify method really results in the best germination for your skirret seeds.
Prick out seedlings and pot them up to grow on to small plants before transplanting outside. Plant in a sunny position leaving about 30cm between plants. Skirrets like rich deep soil with lots of organic matter, but soil that is friable. They need to be well watered to stop the roots from becoming woody and enjoy some liquid feed. The flowers attract beneficial insects.

Harvesting and propagating

Over the summer the plants will reach about 1m-1.5m tall producing umbels of white flowers and in the autumn the foliage will die right back. For a decent yield it is best to wait until the autumn of their second year before harvesting. Main harvesting period is between November and March while plants are dormant. You can divide the plants from autumn to spring, using some roots for eating and some for re-planting. When your plants are established, you can also pinch off small offsets with growing shoots in the spring to propagate new plants, skirret will self sow as well. Once you have a colony growing it is worth experimenting by leaving some plants to grow for 2 to 3 years before harvesting/dividing to develop better sized eating roots.

Cooking and eating

No need to peel, just give them a good scrub with a vegetable brush. Use skirret raw as a tasty snack, or parboil and deep fry, or roast in the oven with olive oil. Sauteed in a pan with butter and parsley is another delicious way of serving them. They also make a lovely soup. Early shoots can be forced by covering with a bucket and eaten as a sweet spring green vegetable.

“Thanks for everything, the info sheet was great. I planted the cuttings the day they arrived and have just multi sown the 9 star in seed trays. All very exciting, we’re now planning our perennial area.”

“You are right, perennial kale is fantastic! Thanks so much for the cuttings. I am a convert to having a corner of perpetual kale in the patch!”

“As the evening sun back lit the plants at Incredible Vegetables, I felt I was standing in one of the most important gardens of our time. Wildflowers working alongside an abundance of edimentals and perennial vegetables. A ‘food glade’ to rival the aesthetic of our greatest plant designers.”

– Jon Davies, garden designer, London Glades –

“I love your website and the work you’re doing. What you’re doing is exiting, useful, and one day will help to replace and enhance what human kind has damaged.With that our natural friends will return and we’ll be better for it.”

“Mandy, thank you. I am delighted with this plant – it is so strong and healthy and exceptionally well packaged – all done with loving care obviously. I shall look forward to having more plants from you.”

“Plants all arrived lovely and are growing well. I just wanted to say i was very impressed with the quality of the cuttings.. and its been a pleasure dealing with you. And I look forward to any purchases in the future.”

“The kale cuttings you sent survived the winter and are thriving. Thank you Mandy Barber you are the super hero of edibles, loving your work!!”

“I bought some Skirret seed’s off you last year. Well they grew and yesterday some got cooked and this message is just to say, they were delicious. Looking forward to a lot more next year. Thank you.”

“The Taunton Dean cuttings arrived a short while ago and never have I seen healthier looking cuttings! They are now firmly ensconced in some nice compost and are having a good drink. I even loved the packaging, which will be composted.”

“Hi I just wanted to let you know that I sowed half of my Caucasian spinach seeds and every single one grew, absolutely amazed, thanks for the seeds and keep up the good work.”

“Just to let you know that the lovely healthy looking plants arrived. Your plants are simply outstanding, every single tuber and plant are growing amazingly.”

“The plants arrived safely, I did not expect such magnificent specimens! I didn’t think I would be successful at stratification etc but I now have a whole bunch of Hablitzia seedlings sprouting after following your excellent advice.”

“Just to say, the Daubentons Kale is in the ground and looking well – thanks to the lovely damp compost encasing its roots…you do a good job at your end, I can tell by the way you package. Will be back for more of your wonderful perennials.”

“Thank you so much for all the vegetables, they really are incredible. I’m sure I’ve never before seen a healthier rootball than the one that arrived with our happy looking daubentons kale, and seeds and tubers are thriving thanks to all the useful information provided.”

“Thank you so much for sending such wonderful, healthy and very large plants. They are beautiful !! You packaged them so well and they arrived so quickly – I couldn’t get to the post office till the following day but they were absolutely fine. They’re now potted up and sitting in my ‘cold’ greenhouse while they adjust.”

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Mandy and Julien