Friday, March 9, 2012

Kale; A Repeat Performance Vegetable

Laciniato AKA Dinosaur Kale

Kale has become the darling of many gardeners and with good reason. It is an amazingly hardy, productive and nutritious vegetable and very easy to grow.  If you have never grown it you should give it a try.   The thing I love about kale it takes winter in stride, I get to harvest from it for months and the leaves actually get sweeter tasting after a good frost.

Red Russian Kale has gorgeous leaves

Last year I sowed seed in late February in a sheltered area outside and planted out the starts as soon as they had sprouted two true leaves above their heart shaped seedling leaves.  Believe it or not, two of those seedlings are still thriving in my garden from last year...a whole year from when they were first planted.

Signs of future possibilities

From spring into early summer I harvested leaves from my plants until the flower stems formed and the leaf production slowed down.  Kale are mostly grown for their leaves but don't overlook those delicious tender flower stems.  Not a one ever goes to waste here in my garden.  They are succulent and sweet and great in salads or stir fries.  Honestly, they are so good I usually eat most of them before they make it to the kitchen.

When the flower production slowed down I noticed the plants were not ready to give up; there were leaves poking out of their once naked stalks.  It was early September which meant there was still enough time to push some growth on those babies so I gave the plants another shot of fertilizer and my effort garnered a few more meals of leaves before the cold weather stopped their growth.

The cut and this year's growth

After all these plants had given me and seeing their will to live I just couldn't bring myself to send them all to the compost heap so I saved two of hardiest looking Russian Kale plants, cut them off just below the last of their leaves. sat back all winter and waited to see what would happen.

Just look at my babies now!

Boy am I glad I did, just look at my babies now!  This year's seedlings are still too small to harvest but I am able to harvest leaves off last year's plant right now.  I'll give them a spring dose of fertilizer after I get my first little harvest so they will put on more leaves before they flower.  About the time these will be flowering their heads off I will be picking leaves from this year's seedlings. I like the timing don't you? So I wonder how long I can keep this little kale factory of mine going?


  1. Wow! I'll never pull a kale plant out again, that's for sure!

  2. Excellent- I want some! I'm trying Walking Stick Kale this year- I'll let you know how it does!

  3. Glad it has inspired you It has really got me thinking about kale in a whole new way. I may see how long I can keep these plants going. Maybe they will be my new perennial veggies.