The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Replenishing the Sea Beet

Sea beet plants (Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima).

Sea beet plants

A reliable source of great-tasting succulent leaves throughout most of the year. Most excellent perennial vegetable! Well-established now – I think these are four years old. Look at that thick stem!

Thick sea beet stem

These plants were grown from seed I gathered on Anglesey. Drawing on this study which compared the life span of sea beet plants from different locations, I’m expecting them to live for somewhere between five and eleven years.

When they were quite far into flowering earlier in the year I chopped them back, leaving just one flowering stem for seed. They have leafed up again well.

Sea beet plants leafing up

And they haven’t immediately thrown up more flowering stems again as these chard plants did.

Re-flowering chard

They don’t seem to mind being planted in a clay soil, although this seedling which appeared in a bed amended with a lot of sand and grit had much bigger leaves.

Self-seeded sea beet

It may just be a better plant. I’ve planted a cutting from it in the sea beet bed and will see if it does as well there. I did take the opportunity to dig a bit of sand and grit in when planting but not nearly as much as the parent plant would have had at its roots. (I’ve found that cuttings of sea beet are possible but a bit tricky. They take a long time to root – but that could be a question of technique!)

Sea beet rooted cutting

Another study I read found that sea beet plants grown in moderately saline conditions had more leaves and larger leaves than those grown with less salt. So yesterday I watered half the sea beet bed with a salt solution (concentration of salt to water was 1:200 by volume) and the other half with plain water. I wonder if I’ll be able to detect a difference in growth between the two sides of the bed if I repeat this treatment a few times.

Sea beet

To keep the plants healthy they get mulched every so often, with compost or grass/clover clippings from the paths or with comfrey leaves. I’d give them a seaweed mulch if I lived closer to the sea.

Replenish your sea beet and it will replenish you!

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