Guide to Growing Seakale
Guide to Growing Seakale
Seakale – Crambe maritima
Best results come from good sandy loam which holds moisture without becoming waterlogged. Prepare the ground in autumn, working in bulky manure. When finalpreparations are being carried out in the spring, fork in a light dressing of an organic fertiliser such as fresh manure, 2 to 3oz to the square metre.
Plants can be raised from seed, although a couple of years elapse before forcing crowns are produced. Sow seeds in prepared beds in early spring, making the rows 38 to 45cm apart. Take out any flower beads that develop.
A quicker method of propagation is by . Usually known as thongs, they should be straight and clean, 15cm long and of pencil thickness. Cut them horizontally at the top and in a sloping angle at the bottom.
Theseare prepared when lifting plants for forcing. Tie them in bundles and bury them in sandy soil, either in the frame or a sheltered position outdoors until planting time in the spring, when the soil is workable. While they are buried, each root normally produces several buds, but only the strongest one should be retained. Make the rows 45cm apart with 30cm between the plants.
Seakale needs forcing, and this can be done in the open by covering the plants with pots or boxes, around which old manure should be heaped. It is also possible to blanch seakale where it is growing, by earthing up the plants, using soil that is dry, fine and friable. Best results come when the roots are taken into cellars, frames or are placed under the greenhouse staging. Stand them upright in good soil or coarse leaf mould in complete darkness. It takes five to eight weeks according to facilities available for really good edible seakale to develop.
The heads are ready for cutting when they are about l5 to 18cm long and should be gathered just before they are required. If not used at once, they become of poor colour and deteriorate quickly. Lily White is the most widely grown variety. It has pure white heads of good flavour. Ivory White is very similar.
Seakale Beet – Beta vulgaris cicla
Known under the names of Swiss Chard and Seakale Spinach, this vegetable is chiefly grown for the thick, silvery-white succulent mid-ribs which form an excellent substitute for seakale, while the remainder of the leaves can be used as.
The plants flourish on most soils excepting light, quick draining ground. Best results come from prepared and manured soil. If possible, dig in well rottedor farmyard manure in the autumn or winter, working in fresh manure 2 to 3oz to the square metre,just before sowing the seed.
Frequent and thorough watering during dry weather will be well repaid, liquid feeds being helpful. A mulching of peat or compost prevents the surface soil drying out.
Sow throughout the spring in drills 25 mm deep and 38 to 45cm apart. Thin theso there is 23 to 25cm between them. The leaves must be pulled of in one piece, if cut in strips, continued production is hindered and decay may set in. Keep the outer leaves picked off to encourage plenty of young tender leaves to develop. A little lemon juice added to the water in which the mid-ribs are boiled will keep them a really clear white colour.