Sea Kale Products and Sizes
Sea kale “thongs” are short sections of root. I typically make thongs about four inches long with a flat cut at the top and an angled cut at the bottom. Think of something about the size of a half pencil. Whenever the soil is workable, plant them vertically one to two inches deep with the flat cut end closest to the surface of the soil and you’ll have new plants in the spring. It takes three years before you should start forcing seed-grown sea kale, but you can start the year after planting thongs.
I get a lot of questions about whether these thongs can be cut up into shorter segments for more plants. The answer is a tentative yes. I guarantee that you will get two plants from the thongs that we send. If you cut them up, it is quite likely that you’ll get more plants, but also possible that you won’t get any, so I make no guarantees once you cut them. Success depends on your climate, your soil, and other unpredictable factors.
Remainders are thongs that don’t meet spec. They are too thin, too short, or oddly shaped. While these thongs will all easily make a plant, they are not always robust enough that you could plant them directly with confidence. They should be potted and allowed to grow two sets of leaves before being transplanted and the plants that they produce will be smaller than those of our regular thongs.
Sea kale does not grow true from seed, but seedlings tend to strongly resemble the parent variety, since sea kale has low genetic diversity. Our seeds are open pollinated, so many seeds will have been pollinated by other varieties. Seeds have a heavy cork shell that allows them to float, but unless you are germinating them in a fish tank, this will not help you. The cork tends to repel water and reduce germination. I recommend that you carefully remove each shell and plant only the seed within. This will greatly improve germination in most cases. A pair of large nail clippers will do the job nicely with less risk of cutting your fingers off than using a knife.
Plantlets are small plants from tissue culture. They are delivered in a plastic container and rooted in agar gel. The significant advantage of plantlets is that they are established in the lab from a disease free source and are therefore as clean a product as I can produce. Another advantage is that I can create and deliver plantlets in about six weeks at any time of year, whether it is the growing season or not. Disadvantages include the expense and the fact that it takes extra work and care on your part to transplant them to pots and get them established before planting them out. Plantlets are shipped separately from other items you order and must be shipped in a rigid package, which is part of the expense.