What type of kale to plant?

RabbitRabbit(9 CA)March 17, 2012

Hi everyone, happy St. Patrick's day! In the spirit of green superfoods, I decided to grow some kale this year, but am wondering what variety to plant.

Recently, when I tried some dinosaur kale it was quite bitter and my kids wouldn't eat it. Then I bought a bag of kale from Trader Joe's and it wasn't bitter at all (don't know what kind it was, but it had ruffled leaf edges). I've searched the forums and there are many plugs for dino kale, but my tasting experience of it hasn't been so good... Is it always bitter, or were my 2 (separate) batches from the farmer's market just an abnormality?

Interestingly enough, the spinach I grow at home is not bitter at all (doesn't have that "iron tang" that some storebought spinach has), so I'm wondering whether it's something in the soil. Thanks so much!!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fireweed87(7a)

I planted Red Russian last year and have put the rest of the pack in this year because it was so sweet. Bought the seeds from Seed Savers Exchange but I think Johnny's has it, too.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 6:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pitcom(7a)

I grow a lot of Kale because i juice it each day. Lacinato or Dinosaur is my favorite for juicing because it does not get as bitter as Red Russian or Blue curled scotch kale. However, red russian grows extremely fast and will yield more in my experience. I also higly reccomend Redbor Kale. It's quite good and bery ornamental looking in the garden.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 6:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jon_dear(4/5)

I'm trying Rainbow Lacinato this year. Frank Morton crossed Lacinato with redbor.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
stuffradio

Kale is bitter in the heat. When it gets cold and frosty, it sweetens it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bi11me(5b)

I have to admit a preference for the Dinosaur as well, but there may be a variety better suited to your much warmer climate than I have.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 2:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Yes, heat during growth makes kale bitter, but I did find last year that spring-grown red russian was still fairly mild flavored in May, when we generally start heading into weather consistently in the 80s, sometimes hitting 90. That's to give you an idea, you wouod have to translate it into your own climate timeframe. Overwinted blue curled scotch can be quite nice in the very early spring, too. Otherwise it's like collards, a fall and winter crop.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 11:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

To the kale veterans out there...

About half my overwintered kale (all Red Russian) are starting to bolt due to the recent 80-degree highs.

Do I cut 'em all to the ground now? Cut the flower stalk and continue trying to harvest?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Not a vetran, but one of my collards did the same and I opted to cut it and eat it, because I thought that once flowering was initiated it keeps going and the leaves produced get smaller. I'm keeping the ones that haven't started flowering out there until they do.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
RabbitRabbit(9 CA)

Thanks everyone for the great replies -- that's really helpful! I'm starting to think that it's probably too late to do kale this year then (I'm in the SF bay area) and maybe I should think about doing it in the autumn. However, we still have lows in the 40s right now and even my sweet pea seedlings are growing super sloooowly. Perhaps it's still ok to do kale?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
stuffradio

When mine bolted, I just kept it. I picked off the flowers, and it kept growing. It was still sweet when the frosts came. The flowers are edible as far as I know anyways.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 12:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bi11me(5b)

ralleia - let them blossom and cook the shoots like broccoli raab, by then your new greens may be about ready to start harvesting.

RabbitRabbit - it can't hurt to put some in now, but save the bulk of your seed for a fall/winter crop. You can cut the bottom leaves off of your solanaceous plants and seed the fall kale underneath. After the nightshades stop producing, just cut the stems at the soil line and let the kale take over. Plan to start seeding about a month before first frost. You can do the same with spinach and peas for fall, too (a few weeks earlier for the peas, they're always a gamble in fall).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jolj(7b/8a)

Lettuce can be bitter when it flowers/bolts.
I grow red kale some Winters for color in salads.
I grow collard year around & have them on the 4th of July.
I never had bitter kale or collards.
You should try it & tell us what you think.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 7:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
RabbitRabbit(9 CA)

Thanks so much everyone for the great advice. I just got some Russian Red kale seedlings at the farmer's market, so I'm going to put them in and see how they do. They are so pretty anyway that I'm growing them in between flowers as part of an edible landscape. If it gets hot, I'll just harvest them small!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 3:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pnbrown

Ralleia, you should let some of your russian go to seed, it's a fabulous self-sower and does not cross with weeds or mustards like most breeds of brassica do.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maggie M.(z7 Sunset7 CA Sierra Foothills)

In USDA zone 9 you might be able to grow your kale all summer - especially if you have a space that gets afternoon shade(it doesn't need full sun in CA). I grew it year round in z9/Sunset14.

I found the easiest way to cook it is to sliver it in long strips and throw it in the water with pasta - for kids, even the sweetest kale may be a push if it's cooked up just as a side green - sneak it in first :-)

The kale I grew the most came from a combination packet from Renee's Garden seed years ago and I'd saved that seed. Green with white and flattish, not highly curled. Can't really find it easily these days so I'm trying her Portugese kale (supposedly sweet and more heat tolerant, but this is my first year so can't say yet).

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:55AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Planting Oca in Tubs?
Has anyone done this with any success? How big a tub...
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada
Cucumber Nutritional Deficiency
Hi guys, I'm a farmer based out of Shmedabad, Gujarat,...
dshaival
Old fertilizer question
I have a large bag of 10-10-10 that got wet. I doubt...
zzackey
Anyone else not liking this "new and improved" houzz thingy?
It took a long time to get through all of the bells...
wertach zone 7-B SC
What's the best way to fertilize/enrich a large garden plot?
I have a community garden I'm working on with over...
srj19
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™