One of the new things I am trying to grow this year is agretti, Salsola soda. It’s a big hit with chefs, but still new on the UK food scene and virtually untried in British gardens.
My early (indoor) sowings came to nothing – well, I did achieve one seedling, which I potted up earlier in the month. I’ve lost track of it since, so I need to go and find it and see how it’s doing…. At the time I wasn’t convinced it was healthy, because it looked as though the base of the stem was rotting, so it maybe that it has since died.
Prior to that, on Sunday 22nd May (I kept records, yay!), I sowed some more seed. I had soaked some in water, and sowed those in a trough with some un-soaked seeds to see if it made a difference to germination. I sowed some direct (and thickly) into the end of my asparagus bed.
Then I waited.
And gave up.
It wasn’t until last weekend, when Ryan was fitting guttering to the sheds that I had occasion to take another look. Ryan slipped and put his foot into the asparagus bed, and summoned me to check whether any damage had been done. It hadn’t – he missed the asparagus plants and stepped on the bit I had sown with agretti.
But wait! What’s that?
It’s an agretti seedling. About their only obliging feature is that the seedlings have red stems, so you can spot them as they emerge. But they look dreadful! With that dark and wizened tip they look like the growing tip has died off before it has even got started.
But if you can find one that’s got to the next stage of life, you can see that it’s just an illusion:
New leaves are indeed emerging as the seedling grows.
I have seedlings in the trough now, too. Both the soaked seeds and the unsoaked seeds are germinating, so that doesn’t seem to have much of an effect (but I haven’t done a proper scientific experiment and counted seeds and seedlings, so I don’t know for sure).
What I do know is that a) it has taken a month or more for these seeds to germinate and b) not many of them have yet. Agretti is known for lousy germination, although reports I have read suggested that packets from Seeds of Italy do better than most.
So… perhaps I haven’t cracked it yet. Are you growing agretti this year? Have you had decent germination? If so, how did you do it? Or are you, like me, still waiting to get even a single plant?
It’s too soon to tell whether this unusual edible is worth the trouble it’s causing, but early signs aren’t looking good! 😉
Suttons have got a great offer on at the moment. You can buy up to 3 of their FloralFusions seed shakers for 1 penny each. There’s a range of shakers (normally £5.99) to choose from, so you can mix and match or share your bargain with friends! A quick and easy way to add colour and scent to your garden this year, and to attract beneficial insects. Why not add a floral strip to your allotment?