Chris Homanics lately dropped me a note under my post from long ago, Daubenton’s kale in the US, that his landrace/grex of perennial kale is now available for sale through the Experimental Farm Network. I’m sure your eyes skipped this intro straight for the picture below. It’s one of the many colors that may show up.
For those who aren’t familiar with the “landrace” breeder terminology, it’s a species, or variety adapted to local conditions. In this case, the landrace is also a “grex,” which comes from the latin for flock, like a flock of sheep, and usually refers to a mix of hybrid genetics.
In this case, a bunch of kale plants (and other near-related plants) have been mixed together through natural pollination. The results are a bunch of kale-ish plants with many, many varying attributes. From here, you can grow and select the specimen that best suit your particular interests.
Sharing this seed back into the network is encouraged. This spreads around the diversity to others, like you, who might want the particular attributes you have selected, or to get rid of some notable attribute you don’t like, but others would love.
After many years of selection by Chris, the vast majority of these are perennial. Yes, perennial.
What’s more, a major portion of the genetics for this mix are from variety ramosa kale, which are the daubenton type. From past discussion with those who have bred this plant, the ramosa attribute of many sideshoots, which makes daubenton’s so bushy, is recessive. So I am curious how much of the mix will express this attribute.
Check out the comments under Daubenton’s Kale in the US if you’re curious to learn more. Or check out the description of the mix on the Experimental Farm Network.
If you would like to participate in the seed sharing network I mentioned, check out the program here.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait before getting your packet. I’ve already got mine.
That Kale is very good.
Thanks for the vote. Have you grown it?
Thanks for the kind words mortaltree. Hope you enjoy it! Look forward to more updates!
Oh I’m quite excited to see what I get out of this genetic lottery. Thanks for all the work you’ve put into breeding it, and finally offering to the public!
Thank you for this info!
I’m loving your perennial kale articles!
I’m curious what you’ve grown from the Grex. I overwintered 2 from this packet last winter (zone 6b) and am now rooting cuttings from one, which is growing shoots off the stalk. The other is weirdly growing spindly shoots off of a bit of exposed root. I have a bunch more started for this season and can’t wait to see what sticks! I’ll let last year’s varieties go to seed, and hopefully have some seeds to share!
Last winter was a warm one for us, so it wasn’t a true test. Our low was about 10F. Anyhow, they never lost their leaves or suffered any frost damage. I thought for sure that they would wilt, but they both stayed green!
I’m also in my 5th year with sea kale (Crambe maritima), but I am preferring these new varieties because they stay green all winter and taste less bitter.
If anyone is interested in swapping scions, feel free to contact me on Instagram: @foodforestcardgame
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Pleasure to meet another perennial kale persuer, Karl. In my zone 5b winter, the outdoor planting didn’t make it from this grex. Which is unfortunate because I loved how big and ruffly the leaves from my batch were. I am focusing now on the “Bear Necessities” mix I get through Adaptive seeds. And I have seed from a friend who lives in a little warmer climate whose kale blooms and continues to live another year for a good 4 years now. Both these mixes are Red Russian type kale.
Congrats on some success with the sea kale! It never cared well for me. I tried Crambe cordifolia because it’s supposed to like woodland conditions, and loved how luscious the leaves were first year. But unfortunately it just hasn’t persisted well.
Appreciate the scion offer. I may take you up on hat when I figure out what greenhouse space I can spare. Definitely will check out your Insta.
Ok. Cool. I can dig up sea kale rootstock for you, which can go directly in the ground. No need for a greenhouse. The seeds, however, do need to be started indoors. Either one can survive in zone 5.
I will be saving seeds from my 2 existing “perennial” kales. Having overwintered with temps down to 10 F, they may be better adapted to drop another zone or two. I’m planning to cross them for a few generations here in the hope that I can create some stable, cold-tolerant genetics. Maybe after a few rounds, I’ll be able to send some hardier seeds north.
Please email me if you decide you want sea kale rootstock or seeds. Or cuttings from the other perennial kale I mentioned.
Curious what kind of soil you have your sea kale in? I have successfully sprouted several over a couple of years, but they just never can flourish. Suspicious I need better drainage.
And thank you for the kale seed offer. I’ll be happy to send postage for those for when they mature and will email you for the address shortly.