How To Plant And Use Sea Kale

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:39 pm

Sea cabbage is a native plant that grows mainly on coasts. With a little skill, however, you can also plant and harvest the cabbage in your own garden.

Sea cabbage, also called shore cabbage, is native to the coasts of northern and western Europe. It used to be abundant, but today the stocks have dwindled. As a result, wild sea kale may no longer be collected.

How To Plant And Use Sea Kale

Sea kale grows between 30 and 75 centimeters tall and up to 80 centimeters wide. The plants form clumps and can be easily identified by upright flower stalks.

If you want to plant sea kale in your garden, you will find all the information you need below.

Sea kale: location and sowing

As with all plants, if you want sea kale to thrive, you need to find the right location for it before planting. Growing wild, it prefers salty coastal soils, but it also adapts to garden soils. It is important that you plant it in a sunny location and that it has no direct planting neighbors. The location should also be airy and as free as possible. As for the substrate, sea kale feels most comfortable in sandy, well-drained soil. It also accepts stony, loamy soil – but only if you loosen it regularly.

How To Plant And Use Sea Kale

Once you have found a suitable spot, you can start sowing. This is best done in spring.

  • Buy sea cabbage seeds at a gardening store. Preferably use organic seeds.
  • Soak the seeds in water for one day.
  • Prepare a few seed trays and fill them with potting soil.
  • Press the seeds about two inches deep into the soil.
  • Place the seedling trays in a bright location, but not in direct sunlight.
  • Keep the soil moist.
  • After about three to four weeks, you can separate the plantlets and plant them out in the open. Keep a distance of about 50 centimeters between the individual plants so that they have enough space to develop freely.
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Proper care of sea kale: How to make it thrive

Overall, sea kale is a very low-maintenance plant. In the period after planting, you should provide it with sufficient water. However, make sure that it does not get waterlogged, as it does not tolerate this.

After about a year the plant is well grown. From then on, the sea kale can supply itself with water from the soil and you do not need to water it additionally. Only in extremely hot and dry periods you should give it some water.

The sea kale is almost exclusively self-sufficient in water, but not in nutrients. It has a relatively high nutrient requirement, which is why it is worthwhile to mix some compost or manure into the soil every year in autumn or spring. If you want to harvest sea kale regularly, you should provide it with slow-release fertilizer.

Sea kale: How to use it properly

In the first year of planting, you should not harvest your sea kale yet. You can start harvesting in the spring of the second year.

Sea kale is a so-called bleaching vegetable – so you have to bleach it before harvesting. Bleaching refines the taste of the sea cabbage and makes it less bitter. To do this, place a large pot or something similar over the roots as early as February. By depriving the plant of light, it does not produce chlorophyll and therefore does not turn green. About four weeks later you can harvest the first shoots.

You can cook them like asparagus and use them as a vegetable garnish, in salads or in lasagnas and casseroles.

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After bleaching, remove the pots and let the sea kale continue to grow. After a few weeks you can harvest the flower buds. You can prepare them in the same way as broccoli.

By the way: It is best to leave a few flower shoots. This not only pleases the gardener’s eye, but also the bees in your garden.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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