Open-pollinated perennial, probably Zone 5. Native to the seashores of England and Ireland and popular in Victorian England. Once grown on a large scale as a winter substitute for asparagus, cultivated for its blanched tender delicate ivory-colored leaf stalks that can be boiled or steamed to provide a good source of vitamin C. Sea Kale grows up to 3' forming a beautiful rosette of wavy-edged thick silvery-grey leaves and dense racemes of small white sweet-scented flowers in midsummer.
Plants die back in the winter, the ideal time to take cuttings of the fleshy side-roots to store in moist sand until setting out in soil in March. This is a faster way to generate plants than starting each year from seed.
Scarify seeds or nick the big seed casings for better germination. Start indoors like broccoli, set out, protect to overwinter and begin harvesting the 2nd and subsequent years.
Blanch the tender slightly bitter early spring shoots in absolute darkness under large pots, and harvest when the stems reach 3–10". Exposed to light, in its natural state Sea Kale is bitter and inedible. After blanching, allow plants to rebuild their strength for the following season. Approx. 15 seeds/g. ①