There are a lot of
perennials with leaves that can be used as greens, but I have to admit
that I prefer the flavor of our annual
greens most of the
time. So you can imagine how excited I was upon hearing of
perennial kale --- perhaps it could be my answer to the early
spring greens shortage?
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And then reality set
Toensmeier tried out several varieties of perennial brassicas in
his Massachusetts garden with very little luck and concluded that they
are only reliably winter hardy to zone 8 or 9. At the same time,
the perennial brassicas detest heat, so he only recommends the
currently available varieties for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest.
challenged us all to develop a new perennial brassica that can
withstand hot summers and cold winters. Brassica
contains a heaping handful of annual and perennial species and he
suspects experimental crosses might yield the perennial holy kale...I
To that end, when some
kale plants overwintered last year, I left them alone. Most
bloomed and died (kale is a biennial --- that's what it does), but one
survived and kept plugging along. I can't actually remember
whether this kale bloomed and I picked off the blooms or if it just
kept growing. All I know is that I've been harvesting a few
leaves from my kale plant off and on for the last twelve months.
Will it survive the winter again unprotected? Will it skip
blooming again and prove itself a true perennial? Only time will