Crambe maritima is a delicious edible delicacy, as well as a decorative garden plant.
Delicious edible delicacy
All parts of the pretty Sea Kale are considered a culinary delicacy.
As it has a unique flavour, nutty and perhaps a little like fine Asparagus.
So Sea Kale now features in fine restaurants all around the world.
Easy to cook
Crambe maritima is easy to use in the kitchen, versatile and quite delicious.
So eat the leaf stems raw in salads; or boiled, baked and steamed like Asparagus spears.
And cook the leaves like Spinach and spice with Garlic.
Or grate the roots raw into salads, chop for stir-fries, or pickle and mince as a zesty condiment like Horseradish.
Even the pretty sprays of fragrant white flowers are eaten fresh in salads or cooked like Broccoli.
As are the delicious seed pods served like sugar-snap peas.
Decorative garden feature
Crambe maritima forms a wavy mound of scalloped sea-blue-grey leaves.
Making a very decorative, low foliage and colour feature in the garden.
Then sprays of sweetly fragrant, creamy white flowers float above in summer.
So it is perfectly pretty enough for the flower garden (and you can sneakily harvest as you wish).
Or you can proudly grow it in the veggie patch as a decorative delicacy.
You don’t need to live by the sea to grow Sea Kale
Crambe maritima is hardy, adaptable, and easy to grow. Just as it is so easy to eat.
Plant it in Full Sun to a little Shade.
Where it can tolerate poor soils if necessary, although it performs and produces brilliantly in fertile, well prepared soil such as in the veggie patch.
It is also able to get along on limited water and is drought resistant once stablished, though again it really thrives and produces with just average garden watering.
Plus it is very frost hardy and can withstand frosts down to around -20C.
But it can cope with coastal conditions
So it is not necessary to live by the sea to please your Sea Kale (though it is naturally adapted to salt spray and salty sea air).
Crambe maritima is also well adapted to a wide range of soil types.
From sandy or rocky gravel; to clay; acid or alkaline pH; and saline soil conditions.
Hardy perennial clump
Crambe maritima forms a long lived, perennial clump.
Approx. 75cm. High when in summer flower x 75cm. Wide of scalloped, wavy sea-blue-grey leaves.
It dies down in winter like Asparagus, so you can harvest the tender new shoots from the crowns in spring.
SEED SOWING ADVICE: QUICK & EASY
Suitable for beginners & gardening with kids
Seeds for Crambe maritima can be sown at any time indoors in punnets when temperatures are suitable / or sown directly into the garden in spring.
Seeds should be stored in the fridge (not freezer) if you are not sowing immediately.
Place the packet in a clip lock bag and seal before storing in the fridge to keep them fresh until you are ready to sow.
Sow indoors for early plants: First soak the seeds in warm (not boiling) water overnight.
Then next day sow the seeds in a punnet on the surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Now gently pat the surface of the mix to ensure the seeds have good contact with the mix.
And cover the seeds with approx. 2cm. of sieved mix / fine grit.
Then thoroughly moisten the mix by standing the sown punnet in a shallow water bath and allowing the water to percolate through from below, until the surface is moist.
Now wrap the moist, sown punnet in cling-wrap or a plastic bag, and place in the fridge (not freezer) for 4-6 weeks.
This “pretend winter” period of chilling will greatly enhance the seed germination.
Then after 4-6 weeks, remove the punnet from the fridge, unwrap, and place the punnet in a warm, well lit position (not in any direct sunlight).
Keep the seed punnet in good light
Temperatures around 15C are ideal for rapid and optimum germination after the period of chilling.
So you can use a heat mat to maintain temperature if you have one, but it is not essential as these seeds are willing germinators in a warm and well-lit location.
A sheltered window sill or warm corner is also fine as these seeds also appreciate plenty of light to sprout.
Then continue to keep consistently moist by misting from a spray water bottle as required.
Covering the punnet with a clear plastic cover will help maintain consistent moisture and prevent drying out.
Seedlings may begin emerging as soon as 10 days, but normally in approx. 14 days.
And it is a good idea to prick the seedlings out as soon as possible, as once sprouted they grow quickly and so can become leggy if they are left too long.
Seed count: 5 large seeds per pack (Seed of this delicious delicacy is scarce).
A little history
Crambe maritima has a long history as a treasured edible, dating all the way back to pre-historic times.
The ancient Roman aristocracy also considered it a rare delicacy, harvested from the shores of the Black Sea.
Then Sea Kale rose to prominence in the great era of sailing ships. When it was pickled in barrels and eaten on long sea voyages as a preventative against scurvy. And gaining the name of Scurvy Grass along the way. Fortunately as it is indeed high in Vitamin C.
Then during more recent modern times, in the era of bulk food transport, it fell from favour because it did not travel well or store for ling periods in cool stores. It is always best eaten fresh harvested.
But now in our era where we are turning more and more to “low food miles”, “paddock to plate” and “grow your own” – Sea Kale is back in a big way.
Growing Tip: Be prepared to defend your Sea Kale clumps against slugs and snails in the spring as the tender new shoots are emerging. We want them to eat, not the snails.
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