Agretti are an unknown vegetable, often unjustly forgotten by gardeners. However, this vegetable, although of minor importance, is present in the culinary tradition of various regions of Italy, since the plant agretti ( soda sauce ) is a species of Mediterranean origin, found spontaneously on the coasts of almost all of Italy. It is a succulent herbaceous plant with an annual cycle. From Europe, the plant was brought to America and found a natural habitat off the coast of California, where it became a widespread weed crop.
In different regions, this vegetable has received different names, often very characteristic: the most widespread is the picturesque appellation of “barba del frate”, with a variant of “barba del negus”, but agretti are also indicated as rosciano, or riscola. The plant belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family, like spinach and beets, with which it shares certain characteristics.
This vegetable is characterized by its tubular and filiform leaves, which are cooked like spinach to form a tasty accompaniment, rich in mineral salts. The agretti are also an excellent ingredient for cakes or savory omelettes. You should know that it is not easy to find this vegetable en primeur, but when you find it, it is generally very expensive. In fact, it’s not difficult to grow monk’s beard in the garden, and that’s one more reason to grow this plant. The defect of agretto is the low yield of each plant, which determines the market cost, but this is compensated by the excellent taste.
Favorable climate and soil
How and when to sow agretti
The cultivation of the monk’s beard
pick up the needles
Favorable climate and relief
As expected, the monk’s beard plant lives spontaneously in coastal areas, revealing that it is a plant that likes a mild climate and saline soil. The agretto fears frost and water stagnation, while it tolerates drought quite well and even adapts to poor soils. It is rarely found in compact and clay soils.
To plant it, choose a sunny corner of the garden, work the soil well and fertilize moderately in particular avoiding excess nitrogen.
How and when to plant agretti
planting period . For sowing monk’s beard, as for any other crop, it is important to choose the right sowing period, the best time for this vegetable is spring, as soon as the temperatures allow it. Planting can begin in March or April, depending on the climatic zone where the orchard is located, and can continue until September. The agretti crop cycle is quite short: it is advisable to harvest it 30/40 days after sowing, in order to have young and tender leaves. In a family garden it is worth sowing vegetables in a staggered manner, to have a harvest diluted over time which allows a regular availability of vegetables.
moon phase . Being a leafy vegetable for those who want to follow the moon in planting, it is necessary to do the work in the waxing moon, a so-called favorable period for the vegetative part of the crop.
how to sow . Rosicano or Agret seeds are easily found online or in well-stocked nurseries, due to their rapid cycle it is best to place them directly in the field, avoiding going through nurseries and transplanting. As germination is a little slow, it may be worth soaking the seeds for a few hours, perhaps in chamomile. The best growing technique is row planting by tracing a shallow furrow and placing the plants about 15/20 cm apart.