On Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 6:03 in the morning, it was snowing at my house! The big, fluffy flakes were floating softly to the ground. Some places received an inch or so. This is the month of May! It is not supposed to snow in May! We have had some snowstorms in April.

I remember an Ohio Holstein Spring Sale scheduled for an April 3, Saturday several years ago that had to be canceled and held the next week. The snow was so deep no one could get in or out of Wooster! I don’t ever remember snow in May. My lawns and barnyard need mowed again, but I’ll be darned if I am going to put on my winter coat, scarf, gloves and snow boots to mow grass!

It’s time to plant the garden! Our farm market was scheduled to open Saturday. The cold weather and rains are holding up the planting of crops and gardens. Gardeners are anxious to get their produce growing and ready for marketing and consumers are anxious to find it available to buy. We need warm weather and sunshine. It will help solve a lot of problems!

I recently was told about a garden vegetable that I had never heard of called Salsify. It is a root vegetable that is a relative of the parsnip. It looks like an ugly brown stick! It is a winter vegetable, belongs to the dandelion family and is known as the “oyster plant” because of its faintly oyster flavor when cooked. It can be boiled, mashed or fried like a potato or added to soups. Roots can be peeled, steamed 15 to 30 minutes and browned in butter. You can even eat the leaves, the light colored part, the bottom six inches or so. Salsify can be found at some farm markets and online from specialty stores from October to January.

White salsify is native to the Eastern Mediterranean and was first cultivated in Italy and France. The roots were used for both food and medicine. The greens look like coarse grass and can grow up to three feet tall. The blooms are a dusky pink or purple. There are two varieties, black and white. Other names they may be called are “purple goat’s beard” and “vegetable oyster”. Salsify contains iron, Vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus and fiber. It contains as much potassium as a banana. The medical use was for gall bladder and liver complaints. Black salsify was used as a remedy for snakebites.

It is planted in early spring when snow does not fall, takes 100 to 120 days to reach harvesting size and prefers cool weather. Seeds are planted every four inches in rows, spaced 12 to 16 inches apart. Salsify prefers poor to moderate soil…too much manure or compost will produce poor-quality roots. Sprouting salsify looks exactly like young grass…be careful weeding. It doesn’t can or freeze well, so should be left in the ground until needed. It can be dug before the first freeze and kept in a cool root cellar or in a container of damp sand.

Hummingbirds are back! I saw a pair at my feeder on May 6. I have only seen two at the same time, but they are visiting the feeder pretty often, so there may be more. With this cold weather, I thought maybe I should put out some warm cocoa for them!

As I sit here writing about a vegetable, I cannot help but think about how good those first green onions, peas, a pot of green beans with lots of ham and new potatoes, juicy ripe red tomatoes, etc. are going to taste when the gardens are finally growing. However, on this cold, rainy May day it will have to be hot soup as I try to keep warm in my sweat pants and sweat shirt with the furnace running! At least the soup is vegetable!

Barb Lumley wrote this column to be published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

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