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Kale

Kale Brassica oleracea convar. acephala and Brassica napus

The hardiest of brassicas, plants are best raised in the early summer (around May) by sowing into a seedbed outside, or in pots. Plant out or transplant in July or August into their final positions at a spacing of 45cm for dwarf varieties, or 75cm for taller varieties. They conveniently follow an early crop of peas or broad beans. Plant firmly and water in well. Kales need little attention apart from controlling aphids and cabbage white butterfly, and will grow well in most garden soils. Harvest in the depths of winter, when little else can be found, by removing a few leaves from each plant. Can be used as a ‘cut-and-come-again’ in salads. The younger leaves are less bitter. Varieties of kale will cross-pollinate, as well as with cabbages and cauliflowers. Some kales are of the species Brassica napus (as indicated). These will cross-pollinate with swede and oilseed rape.

Asparagus

Listed in ‘The Vegetable Garden’ (Vilmorin-Andrieux 1885), this variety is reputed to be one of the tastiest of kales. The violet tinged, fringed leaves are mild-flavoured, and in spring the young, tender flower shoots can be blanched and eaten like asparagus. Compact, hardy and very productive.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Madeley

This kale was given to us by Mrs Withers, who included a note saying that the kale may have been grown in her garden since the 17th Century. A large plant with soft, grey-green leaves, surprisingly sweet and tender with a mild flavour. Both leaves and shoots are good to eat. Easy to grow and untroubled by pests.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Ragged Jack

Donated by Paul Pickering whose family had grown it for years as ‘Tunley Greens’. His wife’s grandfather originally obtained it from Tunley in Wiltshire in 1910. This variety has been known in Europe for centuries and was popular in cottage and farm gardens. Its frilly grey-green leaves have a lovely purple tinge, and it is valued for its hardiness and ability to provide fresh greens in the depth of winter. Member Peter Woollam told us “I have grown several varieties of kale over the last couple of years and found this to be the best of all. It is extremely frost hardy yet tender to eat, requiring less cooking than other kales I have tried.”

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Hungry Gap (B. napus)

Similar to Ragged Jack, this variety was introduced by Carter’s Seedhouse in 1923. Tom Lang of Greenpeace donated this variety to HSL in 1980; he obtained it form an old gardener in Canada. Grown at Ryton in 1995 we found this one to be superior in hardiness and colour, being steel blue with a red and purple hue in colder weather. Noted to have a wavy edge to the leaves.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Spis Bladene

An old Danish variety whose name simply means “eat the leaves”. Donated by Annette Olisen, this appears to be a perennial kale, reaching a magnificent 2m. This is a must to grow to seed, as the flower heads are spectacular, with white flowers, very unusual for kales. The leaves are broad and glaucous, and slightly peppery to taste.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Tall Kale

We feel that this may be an old variety, likely to have been available in the mid-19th Century. We would be very grateful for your observations on this variety.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Theyer

Donated to the Heritage Seed Library by Peter Handy, in response to the Seed Search campaign in 1998.  This variety of kale is named after John Theyer, whose spinster daughters (born in the 1850s) took the kale with them when they set up home in Hucclecote, Gloucestershire. Their nieces continued to grow it and passed the seed on to Mr Handy. Compact and hardy, it is similar in appearance to 'Ragged Jack', with less purple colouration on the leaves.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.

Theyer

Vate's Blue Curled

This dwarf (30-40cm), non-heading variety produces finely curled, blue-green leaves is very hardy, and particularly tender to eat following a light frost. Can be harvested as a ‘cut-and-come-again’, or the whole plant can be uprooted. The extent of the blue colouration varies, but it does look great in an ornamental border as well as being a valuable food crop.

Please note: this variety needs a little bit more of a helping hand, so we are not able to send out seeds with gifts, however by adopting it you will be directly contributing to its conservation, so that one day we will be able to make it available to everyone.


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