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Sea-Kale

SEA-KALE, Crambe marilima, a hardy perennial, a member of the natural order Cruciferae, which grows wild along the coasts of England, of Ireland and of the Scottish lowlands, along the western coasts of Europe, and on the Baltic, reappearing on the Black Sea.

In cultivation sea-kale prefers a light dry soil, and when manure is necessary it should consist of sea- weed or well-rotted dung; or a dressing of s#It or of nitrate of soda may be given. When raised from seeds, they should be sown in March or April in rows I ft. asunder, the plants being thinned to 6 in. apart. In the following March these should be planted out in trenched well-prepared ground, 2 ft. asunder, in rows 2 J to 3 ft. apart. The top with the crown buds should be cut off before planting to prevent them from running to seed. In the spring of the second year the young shoots if blanched will be fit for use, and therefore the summer growth should be promoted by the use of water and liquid manure. Tolerably blanched stalks may be produced by plants only nine months old from the seed, and after two summers seedling plants will have acquired sufficient strength for general cropping. The seeds, instead of being sown in rows and transplanted, may be deposited in patches of three or four together, where they are to remain. In the autumn, after the leaves have been cleared off, the ground should be forked up, and 6 or 8 inches' depth of leaves or of light sandy soil laid over the plants, by either of which means they will be blanched, though not forced. The blanched sprouts should be cut for use whilst they are crisp, compact and from 3 to 6 in. in length, the stem being cut quite down to the base.

Sea-kale beds may be made from cuttings of the roots of very healthy plants, the extremities of the roots, technically called " thongs, ' being best adapted for this purpose. They should be taken up in autumn, cut into lengths of about 4 in., and laid in a heap of sand or earth till spring, when they should be planted out like the seedlings.

Forcing. Sea-kale may be forced in the open beds by the aid of sea-kale pots or covers, which are contracted a little at top, with a movable lid. One of the earthenware covers, or an inverted flower- pot, is placed over each plant, or each patch of plants, and leaves of trees are closely packed round the pots, and raised to about I ft. above them. When fermentation commences, the temperature within should not exceed 60 F. If the crowns are thus covered up by about the end of October, the crop may be cut by about the third week of December, and by starting a batch at various times a supply may be kept up till the middle of May.

Strong plants may also be taken up and planted on hotbeds, the sashes being kept covered close; or they may be set thickly in boxes as recommended for rhubarb, and placed in any heated structure, or in the mushroom house; but, to have the shoots crisp and tender as well as blanched, light must be completely excluded. Besides the common purple-leaved, there is a green-leaved sort, which is said to blanch better.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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