A roundabout way to perennial kale.

Perennial kale is what everyone wants. At the same time it is what everyone can’t get (or keep once they get it).

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‘Kosmic’ kale

The problem is the known world of perennial kale is just way smaller than what it really is, because while everyone tries to cram through the overly tiny front door of Daubenton’s (and ‘kosmic’), the broad back door of perennial kale from seed remains unknown.

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‘Sutherland’ Kale. Seemingly perennial, definitely grown from seed.

I don’t mean seed harvested from perennial kale, which is more or less an uncommon happening; and good luck getting it. I mean seed from certain kinds of biennial kale who’s genetics teeter on the border of perennial and biennial. With these, it can be as much of a fifty fifty chance each plant will be perennial.

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‘Western Front’ kale (just the bluish leaves down low, not the tall orach) is said to have a fifty fifty perennial regrowth. Unfortunately, after growing it I can’t say for sure. The cultivar is selected from the hardiest kale the breeder, Tim Peters, could get, all of them surviving a very cold western front storm. Apparently Ohio winters can be colder. It died. I like the variation in leaf shape though, some showing a frilly Russian look, some a more rounded shape. I’ll try them again, in the greenhouse.

That is only for select cultivars such as ‘Pentland Briggs, ‘ ‘Western Front, ‘Sutherland.’ I’ll do some more research this year with some other varieties rumoured to have the elusive talent of immortality. So, in about two years, I’ll let you know the results. Until then, if you are in a dire straight to gain eternal kale, I would recommend you set an area aside for a lot of kale, and try the varieties mentioned as an alternative, roundabout way of getting it.

9 thoughts on “A roundabout way to perennial kale.”

  1. PS just read the post above properly and heartily agree. I leave all kinds of kale for as long as they will live and many will continue on and on. I had a Red Russian kale that stopped being red but lived for three years (at least). I had to leave it behind when we moved house last November as it would not have coped with being moved. But have cuttings taken from it that have over wintered.

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  2. Fascinating how you see a whole different side of plants once you start gardening perennial. Most people plant their kale in spring and till it in fall or next spring without ever getting a chance to see what it does in its second, third, or fourth year. I’m curious though: did you notice a reduction in flowering and seeding in the kale that stayed compared to those that died after seeding? My Sutherland pictured above took forever to give maybe ten blooms without developing seed from any of them. The others gave a good many flowers much earlier. Excited to hear that there could be perennial genetics in even Red Russian. Thanks for the tip.

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  3. I’m afraid I didn’t look sufficiently closely to notice reduction in flowering and seeding per se. However I don’t think any of my kales have died after seeding in the past, they have died in extremes (for us) of weather.

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  4. Yes, often it’s weather that ends good experiments like that. Perhaps we should just chuck the idea of perennial kale for a while and work on getting a hardier one. Thanks for the info.

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  5. Thanks for the link! I thought your blog was on wordpress, but didn’t see much happening over there. Great work to get those kale rooted! Hopefully I can get some rooted cuttings off my Sutherland this year.

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