Perennial in Brassica Family|
(Brassicaceae family, Crambe maritima, Lily White)
It is a very hardy, robust perennial with thick blue-green-gray leaves. Tolerates
temperatures as low as minus 30!
The leaves are fleshy and large. It is
related to cabbage. It forms into clumps or mounds. Plants live about 7-12 years.
Blooms early and mid summer. The flowerheads look like broccoli heads. The
flowers are white (lilywhite) in the variety that I sell.
Stems, Flowers, Roots and Leaves Can Be Eaten|
Edible parts can be blanched. Cut stems when 8 inches tall. Eat roots, shoots,
stems, young flowerheads and leaves raw or cooked.
Leaf midribs (stems,
stalks) are cooked like asparagus and taste somewhat like kohlrabi. The leaves
taste something like collards or strong cabbage. The roots are starchy and contain
some protein too.
to Grow Sea Kale by Seed|
be sown at any time. The best temperature is 45-68 degrees F. The best time
to sow is late winter through early spring. It naturally likes to germinate
in spring. Seeds sown in summer or fall may germinate then, or the following
Seakale has a corky covering
over the seed. Remove the covering to speed up germination. It can take
3 or more weeks to sprout. Keep the soil moist.
Sow 1/2 inch deep. The best is soil with some compost. You can sow seeds
6 inches apart if you are short on space.
Eventually they need to be about
30 inches apart. Thin seedlings when they have 3-4 leaves. Seedlings tolerate
Grows 2 feet tall and 3 feet across. Matures in 100 days. Plants live about
The second photo is a young plant coming up in spring.
"I used a garlic press to remove the Sea Kale seed from its pod. It worked great." -Janet, Old Hickory, Tennessee
Propagating by Roots or Tubers|
You can also propagate sea kale by root cuttings or thongs. Thongs are 3-4
inches long and about as thick as a pencil.
They are usually dug and cut
in November or December. The top end is marked. Then they are placed in sand and
put in a refrigerator until spring, usually March.
By March there are
buds on the roots. The thongs are planted outside, vertically with the top and
one or more buds just under the soil.
We have not done any experimenting
with different methods of planting. But you may want to try some.
I only sell Sea Kale seeds/pods. I don't sell the roots/thongs.
and Harvesting of Sea Kale|
likes full sun but will tolerate some shade. Grow in sandy soil with pH around
7.0. However, it is not picky about pH or soil type. Must have good drainage.
Very few diseases or pests except for clubroot. It is salt and drought
tolerant. Good in maritime environments. It can live in places most other plants
It is slow to grow the first year. Lightly harvest the first 2
years. Young shoots are usually eaten in the spring but it can be eaten all summer.
It can be blanched for eating in the fall or winter.
Once it is mature,
do not harvest all the leaves. It needs some leaves left to grow and maintain
Wild and Popular Plant|
Seakale grows wild in Europe along the coasts from the North Atlantic to the Black
Sea. People collect it along the seashores in the spring.
It was a popular
vegetable in the 1600s and 1700s. Thomas Jefferson wrote about it in his "Garden
Book of 1809". He cultivated it in his garden.
The Romans took it with
them in barrels on their ships. It has a lot of vitamin C so it prevented scurvy.
seeds in the fall. Each seed is encased in a round, brown, corky pod. Since Seakale
likes to grow near the sea, the pods are designed to float. They are carried by
the tide to new locations.
Each pod has only one seed. The photo to the
left is a seed. The photo above on the right side of the photo has a seed with
the broken pod pieces above it.
Seeds vary in color from light to dark
Also Grown as an Ornamental|
leaves and flowers are very interesting. It's a unqiue plant that adds character
to your garden. Bees love it.
Its leaves start growing in early spring
and stay green until hard frosts.
Other names for it are chou marin, silver
kale, blue seakale, halmyrides, sea-colewort, and scurvy grass. Sea Kale is not
the same as Sea-Kale Cabbage.
Recipe from Scotland|
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add olive oil, salt, and sea kale stalks to a frying
pan. Cook gently for three or four minutes. Then place it in the oven to roast
for three minutes until tender.
The photo to the left are the immature
seed pods that will later turn brown.