Natural Seakale

For "natural", Seakale is planted two rows 12 in. apart, with 12-in. spaces in the rows, and then alleys 3 ft. 6 in. in width. Down these alleys a crop of Lettuce can be planted in the summer, or a row of Seakale can be grown to take up for forcing. The mould in the alley is put up on the rows of Seakale in January to the depth of 9 in.; the sides are kept nearly upright by "facing" them with the spade, and the top of the bed thus formed is levelled with the back of the spade. This operation will cost from 6 to 8 per acre. If the sides of the beds are not kept upright, and at least 6 in. of shoulder preserved outside each row of Seakale, the crowns will force their way through the sides of the beds, as the shortest way to get light and air, becoming blue and useless. If the beds are properly " landed': the Seakale will come up through the top, announcing its presence by first producing a crack in the surface and then showing the little pink tips of its leaves. It should then be cut by removing the mould from the side with a spade until the top of the root is visible.

The crown should then be cut by a sharp stroke of the spade in such a manner that about half an inch of the root comes with it. After all the Seakale has been cut the beds can be levelled down, the alleys cropped with Lettuce or other crop, and the Seakale left in for another year. The roots will each send up a prodigious number of crowns, which must be suckered to two or three, according to size.

One serious drawback to Natural Seakale is that it is almost impossible to keep it back. Nearly the whole crop will come on to the market in a few days, so that there is a glut and it is unsaleable. This is particularly so in a late spring, when it clashes with the commencement of Asparagus. It is not an uncommon thing for Natural Seakale to drop from 5s. per half-sieve or half-bushel to 1s. 6d. or even 1s. in one day.

Natural Seakale is sometimes put up in punnets in the same manner as forced, but more frequently in half-sieves containing 14 lb. The price fluctuates so violently that no average can be arrived at. An acre of good crop will produce about 200 half-sieves. [w. g. l].