• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Kale flowering  RSS feed

 
Dave de Basque
Posts: 130
Location: Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
OK, I got a piece of pie today so I feel qualified to ask a really stupid beginner's question. I think no one bothers telling you things like this because they're so obvious everyone is supposed to know, so why say anything?

Anyway, I have a few Nero de Toscana Tuscan black kale plants that I planted quite late, in the summer. They didn't do much of anything until the winter, when they finally took off. Winter has been very mild and only a very few nights of barely freezing temperatures scattered here and there. So in the height of their production, about three of these plants start to bolt in January!!

I've been in denial but now the ring leader of the band, once the best producer, is flowering wildly and now even producing multiple side-shoots with more and more flowering heads. Which means of course that all the energy of the plant is going into flowering and not into leaf production.

The only plant I really know how to deal with when it flowers is basil -- just pinch them off to keep the plant's energy going into leaf production, not flower production.

I don't really want to do that with this plant without consulting the oracle of wiser permie gardeners though. I've read that some kale plants can last 2 and 3 years, and honestly, after they just sat there doing nothing for 6 months I'm now elated that they're coming into their own and finally producing leaves. I'll gladly keep them through the next season if they'll make it. So would appreciate advice on what to do.

Just to note, the other kale varieties are fine. It's just the nero di toscana that's bolting. About half of the plants are unaffected but one (again, the best producer currently) seems to be forming a flower head on top, sigh...

Top it? Torch it?
 
John Weiland
Posts: 934
Location: RRV of da Nort
43
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My knee-jerk response is to say "welcome to the wiley ways of the biennial"! There can be variation for the timing of flowering and the conditions that induce flowering, hence the possible differences between the varieties that you have planted. But I suspect that having gone into and emerged from winter, their physiology is now primed for flowering. I don't think pruning back the flowers will return the plant to its former luxurious leafy growth, but will let others weigh in on that notion. Biennial beets are the same way.....they pack sugar into the root in the fall, but if you are in a climate that allows for them to overwinter in the garden, they will bolt the following season and send all of their energy into flowers and reproduction. Is it common in your area too plant this crop late in the summer due to summer heat? If not, I would suggest planting them in the spring for a long year of harvest before the go to seed the following spring. But let's wait to see what others say as well.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6413
Location: Left Coast Canada
795
books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My kale started bolting in January this year. Six weeks earlier than normal.

Once they've had a bit of a cold spell and the days start getting longer, kale starts to flower. It's just one of those things they never tell you on the back of a seed packet.

My solution is to eat the flower buds like broccoli. Very tasty!
 
Scott Strough
Posts: 299
Location: Oklahoma
21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have gotten mine to go back to leafy production with a SEVERE pruning right down a few inches from the soil line. You do lose a few, but most send out new shoots. Then I prune those shoots back to a single stem. Basically like hitting the restart button. I came across this accidently one year because I literally mowed down that section of the garden to prepare for a new crop, but my kale came back! (I mow and mulch instead of till)
 
Kyle Mays
Posts: 5
Location: Eastern Panhandle West Virginia
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have one plant of vates kale that has flowered two years in a row. We didn't cut the flowers just collected seeds when they were ready. After it set seed I pruned the dead stalks back to green areas and it started leafing out again. I'm hoping it made it through this winter. It'll be the start of its third year.
 
Dave de Basque
Posts: 130
Location: Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Weiland wrote:Is it common in your area too plant this crop late in the summer due to summer heat? If not, I would suggest planting them in the spring for a long year of harvest before the go to seed the following spring. But let's wait to see what others say as well.

Actually kale is an entirely new crop in this area, very few people have ever eaten or grown it. This is the land of plain-old cabbage and cauliflower, or maybe on an odd day brussels sprouts, romanescu, broccoli and red cabbage. End of brassicas.

But anyway, the community gardens where I have my little plot only opened last May, and I didn't get my raised beds built until later, so I planted everything late. This year I will certainly plant new kale ASAP for the reasons you've already given. The summers here are not usually beastly hot -- we have maybe 3 weeks a year of impossibly hot weather spread out here and there, the rest is pretty mild, and the rain tends to slow down but doesn't often stop.

Thanks, R, Scott and Kyle for the "topping" advice, I think that's what I'll do, and see what happens. R (Ranson), when you chop off and eat your flower heads, how low do you chop? Does the plant come back sometimes from a less severe pruning than Scott suggests? Or does it go back to flowering rather than producing leaves?

 
John Weiland
Posts: 934
Location: RRV of da Nort
43
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@R. Ranson "My solution is to eat the flower buds like broccoli. Very tasty!"

Ah!....(sigh)....'my kingdom for a moderate climate!...". Must be so nice to live where -30C is not a common winter outlook. Although the wine-grape crop and industry have improved locally in recent years, one early bottled offering was advertised as one of Minnesota's first triumphs, with a label that read "...for grapes that were made to suffer..." But just to say that some of our annual domesticated mustards, which do in fact have seeds that can overwinter, will bolt in early summer with similar tasty flower clusters, if a bit pungent.

@Dave d.B: "This is the land of plain-old cabbage and cauliflower, or maybe on an odd day brussels sprouts, romanescu, broccoli and red cabbage."

My wife and I (both descended from N. European stock) have joked about the root crops, cabbages, and small grains sustaining much of European life until the "fun" foods arrived from the Americas in the form of tomatoes, chili peppers, potatoes, etc. No wonder the Vikings went marauding after dining on lutefisk and rutabagas and fueled with hard cider! ( All said in jest, of course!) But kale is a pretty exceptional garden green and not in need of much disease in insect control in our region. We grow chard instead of spinach for the same reason....similar uses in cooking to spinach, but easier to grow.

Sounds like a nice region that you are located in....good luck with the plantings for the coming season!
 
Ruth Stout was famous for gardening naked. Just like this tiny ad:
Book Review Grid
https://permies.com/wiki/31762/Book-Review-Grid
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!