Brassica oleracea ramosa
This species has been cultivated as a food crop for many hundreds of years and, in that time, several quite distinct forms have arisen. The nomenclature of these forms is confused, to say the least, and by no means universally accepted. We have followed the treatment used by GRIN, though it is very likely to be revised in the future[
Brassica oleracea fruticosa Metzg.
Common Name: Perpetual Kale
Perpetual kale is a short-lived, evergreen perennial plant derived in cultivation from the wild cabbage. It grows up to 100cm tall, producing straggling branches up to 100cm long.
The plant is sometimes cultivated on a garden scale for its edible leaves.
A cultivated form of Brassica oleracea.
Not known in the wild.
Perpetual kale is a very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -15°c[
]. It also tolerates high summer temperatures[
A very easily grown plant, succeeding in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[
]. Prefers a heavy soil[
]. Succeeds in any reasonable soil[
] and will tolerate quite poor conditions[
]. Shade tolerant, growing well on a north border[
]. Succeeds in maritime gardens[
]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.2 to 8.3.
Although at one time this group of kales was quite widely grown as a winter leaf crop, it has fallen out of favour somewhat because the leaves are considered be coarser than other vegetables that can be imported from warmer areas in the winter. This is a shame since the plants are very easy to grow, tolerate adverse conditions and are very productive. In addition some of them, particularly the form 'Daubenton', are reliably perennial and will remain productive in the garden for several years[
Kale plants are less likely to be eaten by pigeons than the other members of this genus[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. A strong cabbage flavour, they are delicious if used when fairly young though they can become tough with age[
]. The leaves are usually available from autumn to late spring, and can be harvested all through the winter in all but the very coldest of seasons[
Young flowering shoots - raw or cooked. Picked before the flowers open, they are fairly tender and can be used as part of a mixed salad. When cooked, they have a delicious flavour similar to sprouting broccoli[
Seed - sow in a seedbed outdoors in mid spring. Plant out into their permanent positions in the summer as space permits. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded or they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil - the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported.
The perennial forms can be increased by cuttings. These can be taken at almost any time that they are available. Use shoots about 8cm long of the current year's growth and place them in individual pots in the cuttings frame. They root very quickly and easily[