Friday, March 9, 2012

Native seeds

American sea rocket. Cakile edentula. We hope. These are the sea rocket seeds that kind Lambert mailed to me last fall. Provenance, Fire Island. I had been alerted to sea rocket's existence by Karen, the blogger at Outside Now. It sounded intriguing. I think I may have drooled a little. After collecting some leaves in Jamaica Bay (below) and loving their fiery wasabi taste in a salad, I longed for some of my own. Lambert came through.

What I have only just learned though, is that there are several sea rockets: of those Cakile edentula and Cakile lanceolata are American, while Cakile maritima is a European invader, and a real bully. I looked at my own pictures of the sea rocket in situ carefully, and confirmed - as far as I am able, as a layperson - that what I had eaten was C. edentula. Hopefully the Fire Island rockets (rocket is the English name for arugula) are the same.

I did sow several last fall, and one germinated. But they ain't winter-hardy - they are annuals. Each seed capsule is very tough, and this time I pried them open with my Opinel knife, releasing the seed. For luck, and for a taste of the salt air from where they were born, I scattered the opened capsules over their potting soil.

I don't know if they will like the potting soil, and perhaps I should spray them with Jamaica Bay saltwater every now and then. But I would like to see them grow up. This would be a killer crop.


  1. I'm guessing sand is hospitable, with straw mulch. Guessing. I'm a guesser.

  2. Fingers crossed for successful germination and a good crop for you. It will be a fun experiment no doubt and you always know where you can get more seed. I'll try to keep an eye out for it this year (maybe you too) to see when it emerges down at the beach.

  3. Good luck!
    I wonder if removing the seeds from the pod will help them germinate.
    Keep us posted.

  4. Hey Marie, would love to hear an update. Met sea rocket this February and loved it raw. My colleague called it beach arugula--succulent, sweet, bitter, salty, yummy. Want to get some seeds and grow it in a big pile of sand in my garden for late winter/early spring eating. Lemme know !

    1. That sowing had a low success rate. A subsequent sowing where I just chipped the hard outer covering, was better, around 50%. The soil mixes may have been a factor - possibly too rich, and not sandy enough. I love the leaves, too, and always harvest when I can find them in abundance.


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