Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Perennial vegetables

There are so many interesting vegetable varieties to grow and try. After a vegetable gardening talk this morning, one of the participants asked me if I'd heard of perennial collards.

She had a few plants of perennial kale, obtained from a local gardening enthusiast, which she's had for several years. Perennial kale (Brassica oleracea var. dumosa) is a cultivated selection of the versatile species that provides some of our cole crop mainstays (kale, collards, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, sprouting broccoli, and kohlrabi). This selection is propagated vegetatively, so isn't widely available, except gardener to gardener, apparently.

She also asked if I'd heard of tree kale, which I took to be walking stick kale, but a google search also found reference to tree collards, which must be a similar selection. This thread on Garden Web was fascinating.

I had a beautiful Red Bor kale plant that overwintered last year and was beautiful through the summer and fall (I couldn't bring myself to harvest the leaves), but it finally succumbed to low temperatures in December. It was definitely on the long-lived side of the genome.

I'm going to have to learn more about perennial vegetable varieties. We have a speaker (a young Clemson University Horticulture Extension agent who's from California) coming to talk about permaculture during this year's lecture series who's interested in them. It should be fascinating!

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