Perennial kales were one of the first perennial vegetables I tried to acquire and from that time to this they have always been a mainstay of my garden. This year they have surpassed themselves in growing even more massive than ever before. Firstly there is the green Daubenton’s kale pictured below – I haven’t measured it but it is at least the span of my outstretched arms across this (single) plant.
Then there is the plant I had from seed labelled ‘wild’ kale. It doesn’t look like wild kale and I am not sure what it actually is. There are several plants in this picture and each one of them is large! It is reliably perennial – ie it lasts for several years even though it flowers profusely. I have saved the seeds of these to propagate when they eventually die and also propagated them from cuttings, but because the leaves are so big this means of propagation is not all that easy. You can’t see the bees in the picture, but they are there buzzing around like mad, in seeming ecstasy. The flowers taste nice to eat too and look pretty on top of a salad. I will save seeds from these plants later in the year so please get in touch if you would like some.
And finally there is the lovely Taunton Deane kale. This plant is even bigger than the other two. I picked a huge armful of medium sized leaves the other day – the largest ones and stalks were discarded (back to the garden as part of the mulch layer). The medium sized leaves were lightly tossed in oil and crushed dried garlic and then put onto three baking sheets to dry at 50 degrees celsius in the oven for several hours until crispy. They made two jars full of crushed up dried loveliness because this is an incredibly delicious way of eating kale. And the small leaves were steamed to go with our meal. This kale doesn’t flower and is easily propagated from cuttings. Most of what is visible in this picture is a single massive plant and part is a smaller plant propagated last year.
Principle: In a forest garden biodiversity means health; a living soil and increasing biomass mean increasing fertility, and together health and fertility mean abundance.