Luke Perkins wrote:I recently started a website dedicated to spreading plant material and information about purple tree collards. They can reach over ten feet tall and are hardy down to around 20° F (-7° C). Depending on how you pruned it I think you could definitely get a walking stick out of one. I will try to take some photos of the trunks on one of our older tree collards tomorrow. They are probably over two inches in diameter. Our crop of dino kale that we planted last summer overwintered and was about three to five feet tall before going to seed last month.
Alice Tagloff wrote:http://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=3600
Has a 'Richmond’s Pride’, a purple 'tree collard' that grows to 6-10' and 3' wide.
r ranson wrote:When I was young, I use to love the story of the giant kale. My father grew up in Wartime England and the rationing that followed, and I've always loved listening to what life was like back then. He lived in the country, not far from London, and remembers walking past the different crops on his way to school. Through the gaps in the hedgerow, he would see the Mangelwurzel and the fodder kale. Fodder kale, he told me as he tucked me in at night, was like being in a forest. Great stocks, sometimes up to 12 foot heigh, as thick as your leg, and big broad leaves. The kids played hide and seek among the kale, much to the farmer's dismay.
It is my dream to grow Giant Kale something like this:
image borrowed from here
What is Giant Kale? I'm not sure yet. I would like it to be about 6 foot tall by the first fall, and be delicious for feeding humans and animals during the winter. I imagine as the lower leaves are harvested, a forest of kale trunks, with a canopy of massive leaves above. Maybe between the kale, could grow some over-winter pulses or grain. In the spring, I chop the kale stocks for animal feed or to be chipped into mulch, and the grain or pulse can take off. The leaves of the kale are so high, the sun could still get at the plants beneath them, because our sun is so low in the sky during the winter. But maybe, having that canopy would slow the changes in temperature in the soil. That's what I imagine for Giant Kale.
Until I find my Giant Kale, let's call any kale that grows over 5 foot high in the first year and has large leaves, giant.
One day, while idly flipping through a Thomson & Morgan seed catalogue, I discovered Giant Jersey, or walking stick kale. The leaves from this kale were very tasty when young. The animals love it too. The fodder kale stocks use to be crushed for animal feed in the winter in England.
These also make the most amazing kale chips.
I saved some seeds from those plants. I think our weather was just a bit too dry in the summer and too wet in the winter for this variety of kale. It grew well enough, but it didn't thrive like I had hoped. But it was enough of a success to make me want to grow more. So I'm looking for a kale that grows tall, fast, and has sweet flat leaves that will feed both us and the livestock.
Here's a few varieties I've come across.
has a kale that looks promising, called Pilgrims Kale
This is a giant kale that came to the Americas from Spain centuries ago, presumably with early settlers. It became a family heirloom that is still passed on from generation to generation. It can get up to 5ft (1.5m) tall, and even taller when it flowers. SeedZoo contributor, Lorraine Collett, says that the leaves get so big they look like an elephants ear. Imagine leaves that get up to 20in/50cm long and 12in/30cm wide! The leaves can be used in soups, stews, stir-fries and can be used like cabbage leaves to make meat rolls. Hummingbirds love to visit the yellow flowers. If the flowers are allowed to set seeds, the plant will reseed itself where winters are mild. Easy to grow. Happily grows as a spring-planted annual where winters are more severe.
Baker Creak has three varieties that look promising: Forage Kale Proteor, Marrow Stem Kale, and Tronchuda Kale. They may or may not turn out to be Giant Kale, but they look like a good selections of genetics to start a breeding project with.
Does anyone out there have a giant kale they love? Anyone else growing the stuff? Do you have a seed source you could share?
Chelsea Hartweg wrote:
Your website is awesome, and I am DEFINITELY trying this plant out on our new homestead! I'm wondering. We live in Raleigh, NC (zone 7b/8a), and I'm trying to think if I could manipulate a microclimate that could help it survive the winter. Do you think one of those fabric tree covers would help it? Or even just keeping it out of the wind? I would rather not have to move it. If this works, I want to plant a LOT of them as fodder for animals. Our homestead is only .94 acres, but I want to grow as much as we can to support the animals both for health, environment, and reducing feed costs. This seems like a really good possibility since i know some folks grow microgreens or sprouted grains as animal food. Maybe this could work too!
Srikham Hesenius wrote:
There is nothing what you can compare with Giant Kale cooked with smoked meat, Sausages and the special for this tradition prepared "Pinkel" sausage...