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A traditional early crop, once widely grown and only available direct from the garden. The plants are native maritime relatives of the cabbage, and are forced to blanch the tender young stems, which have a unique mild flavour. This is usually done in situ, although plants can be forced earlier if potted up in November and kept under glass. They are raised from seed, or bought as one-year old root cuttings (thongs), and remain productive for eight to ten years. Forcing ends in May, when plants are uncovered, fed and allowed to grow naturally. Fully hardy, these plants will grow in any well-drained soil. They prefer an open position in full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Propagate by division in spring or by seed in autumn or spring.
Plant type: Vegetable
Flower colour: White
Foliage colour: Grey
Feature: Attractive seed-heads, Flowers, Attractive to wildlife
Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade
Soil: Well-drained/light, Dry, Sandy
Skill level: Beginner
Time to plant seeds: September to May
Time to divide plants: March to April
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