SEAKALE

This vegetable requires a sunny position and deep, rich soil not deficient in lime. It does well in northern gardens. Lily White is a popular variety. Plant the roots about 18 in. apart in March, allowing at least 2 ft. between rows. Cut away the pointed buds on each crown (commonly called crown ‘paring’) and cover with a couple of inches of soil. The idea is to stop the plant flowering and to stimulate greater vigour. During the first year sow a catch crop such as radish, lettuce or onion. Seakale is very easily forced in similar fashion to rhubarb . Invert large flower pots or boxes over the roots from November onwards. Surround the pots with fresh stable manure, leaf mould or damp peat. This provides moist warm conditions and starts the roots into growth. Seakale roots forced indoors should be thrown away after cutting, but when forced outdoors and left undisturbed they often continue to crop well for 4 or 5 years. An annual top-dressing of farmyard manure is beneficial if applied in May.

Seakale is sometimes increased by seed sown in March I in. deep and in drills 1 ft. apart, thinning to about 6 in. They are unlikely to be ready for forcing the first autumn and the usual practice is to trim off the tops as already indicated a year later, I.e. in March, and transfer to their permanent positions. Propagation by cuttings or ‘thongs’ from established roots in November is an alternative method. Choose straight side shoots about the thickness of a pencil and 6 in. long (trimming as necessary.) Note that the top of each cutting should be cut level and the bottom on the slant, otherwise it is practically impossible to tell which is the right way up to plant. Tie the cuttings in bundles and heel in a sheltered corner in damp sand, fine earth or ashes until the following March. First remove all weak eyes and then plant in deeply dug, fairly rich soil about 18 in. apart, allowing 2 ft. between rows.

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