The Q&A Archives: Search for Leaf Beet or Seakale Beet

Question: While traveling in Britain we ate a delicious "spinach" which our host said was really "leaf beet" and "sea kale beet". Is this available in the USA?

Answer: Seakale (Crambe maritama) is a perennial native to European seashore habitats. It grows best in such regions, enjoying the cool air moderated by the ocean. Like asparagus, you can start harvesting the 4-12" shoots in early spring, but must stop when the leaves begin to open. For sweet flavor it's best blanched (grown under a basket or bucket), because when it starts to green up in the light, it can become bitter. You can get seeds from Thompson & Morgan (PO Box 1308, Jackson, NJ 08527, ph#800/274-7333).

Seakale Beet is known as Chard (Swiss or Rubarb Chard) in this country. There are many popular varieties, and Burpee carries several. It's very easy to grow, and can be harvested all summer long, and into fall. Look at the Burpee On-line Catalog for a photo, and see if this fits the description.

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