Perennial culinary kitchen garden vegetable
Description: Edible, bluish-green leaves emerge from the soil in early spring; showy, white, cruciform-shaped flowers developing by summer; attracts bees
Habit: Foliage and dense flower clusters grow to 30 inches high and 24 inches wide
Culture: Prefers light, mellow, well-drained garden loam and full sun
Hardiness: Cold hardy to USDA Zone 6
Attributes: Attracts bees
Thomas Jefferson first planted Sea Kale seed at Monticello in 1809 and continued cultivating this vegetable until 1822. Native to the seacoast of Great Britain, Western Europe, and the Black Sea, this hardy member of the cabbage family is grown for the early spring sprouts that arise from well-established plants (2 to 3 years old). The young leaves must be blanched, like celery or asparagus, to prevent a bitter flavour when cooked. In his 1815 Garden Calendar Jefferson recorded harvesting Sea Kale from April 1 to 28, but he was not using blanching pots until after 1821 when he ordered 500 earthen pots for covering plants of Sea Kale from a pottery near Richmond, VA.