Growing brassicas can start eary in the year if you want cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli to eat in the summer months. I like to satrt my brassica seeds off in root trainers, for early crops using the greenhouse and for later ones a cold frame. It is a good idea not to sow brassica seeds where you plan to plant them out in order to reduce the risk of getting or spreading club-root which can be a real menace.
Growing Kale is easy and provides flavoursome and nutritious greens throughout winter and early spring
I start my kale plants off by sowing sowing a pinch of seed into root-trainers and thinning to one plant per cell in late July or early August. Once the plants have four true leaves I plant them in blocks about 45cms apart using a dibber to make holes and ensuring the plants are firmed very well in up to the first set of leaves around mid September. My favourite varieties are Asparagus Kale and Ragged Jack, both ‘off-list’ varieties which can be acquired through being a member of Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library or from me. Another delicious variety is the Italian black kale called Cavalero Nero and also Delaway which calls itself a cabbage but is treated like Kale. Leaves can be harvested from November, but I like to leave my plants until they have had a good frost which seems to make them even more flavoursome. Asparagus Kale is so called because in spring when the plants start to send up flower spikes, these can be cut and eaten just like asparagus. All kale flower shoots are edible. I like to cut the top off Delaway in April and then eat the new flowering growths rather like sprouting broccoli.
Asparagus Kale plants in March. Note the proliferation of new shoots which will send up delicious flower spikes
Every year or so i leave one variety of Kale to set seed. This time it is Asparagus Kale. I have kept back nine plants and allow then to continue to flower, removing some of the lower flower spikes as I want to ensure the earliest setting flowers mature fully.