This week we have harvested the first of our sea kale for the kitchen. Planted at the beginning of last summer, the rather uninspiring looking roots were potted up until they began to shoot. They were then planted along the edge of the asparagus bed. Both vegetables are salt loving creatures, so in early spring we sprinkle salt on the whole bed which not only makes the crops happy but also deters the growth of weeds.
The sea kale itself has rather majestic leaves which look beautiful through the summer with their purple tinge. Unfortunately these are far too tough for use in the kitchen, so as soon as the plants began to shoot we covered them with forcing pots to blanch the growing stems. We used simple terracotta pots turned upside down over the crowns.
The crop is ready to harvest when the stems reach 8–10 inches long and, although we only forced half of the plants this year, our first picking was surprisingly fruitful – though the most surprising thing of all was the delightful smell of the sea from the freshly cut stems.
Words by Helena, photographs by Martin