In most cases I advocate harvesting and eating leafy greens like kale before they begin to flower.Moreover, there are ways to put flowering kale and similar bolting plants to good use.When this happens, these a kale plant that’s flowering becomse a source of homegrown seed for your next crops.Yes, open pollination can result in plant diversity for your next crop, but that’s half the fun.Garden fowl love to peck away and munch on leafy greens — even if they’re a little stringy and astringent for your pallet. .
Yes, You Can Eat Kale Buds (and They're Delicious) – Garden Betty
Time to pull it up and toss it in the compost bin (or, if you’re like me and subscribe to the lazy gardening philosophy, you just cut it down and use the old foliage as mulch).Kale buds start out as tightly wrapped, green clusters of tender little flowers called florets, and this is when the texture is at its best.If the concept of eating kale flowers seems strange to you, you’ve probably cooked with other forms of brassica buds and not even realized it.Raab (derived from rapa, Italian for turnip) is just a fancy word for the flowering tops of plants from the brassica family, such as kale, broccoli, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage.Broccoli raab (sometimes called rapini) is sold in supermarkets as bundles of stems with tight clusters of flower buds, some with tiny yellow blossoms.The “heads,” or florets, are simply oversized versions of what should really be called broccoli buds and cauliflower buds—so this “unusual” part is more common than you think.It’s simply a matter of demand and the fact that eating kale florets has never been a part of American food culture.From late spring to early summer as the weather warms, kale flower buds appear after the plant has completed its life cycle.Before it sets seed, it sends up a flower stalk and the buds can (and should) be harvested for one final hurrah before the plant expires.I like to cook the buds and flowers as a side dish, as they only a simple dressing to bring out their flavor: some olive oil and garlic, sauteed with a squeeze of lemon.I used to sigh when I looked out my window at the end of the season and faced a bed of flowering kale, but now all I see is a delicious new crop!The flower buds on all Brassicas, including mustard, collards, cabbage, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, mizuna, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnip, are 100 percent edible. .
How do you keep kale from bolting?
Kale plants will bolt naturally in their second year shortly after the winter ends and warm weather returns.When kale begins to bolt, the leaves become more tough and bitter, and suffer a diminished nutrient count.Even after the leaves have turned bitter, the flowers the plant produces are pretty tasty, and can be eaten like you would broccoli florets.If you end up with more leaves than you can use in one meal, toss them into a plastic bag and store them in the dehumidifier drawer of your refrigerator.You can easily make kale chips for snacking by taking the chip-sized leaves, seasoning them, and quickly broiling them in your oven for only a few minutes until they are nice and crispy. .
Flowering kale is edible, but a bitter flavor means leaves are usually reserved as culinary garnishes, not as food.It thrives in cool weather, often taking center stage in the garden during spring and fall.In fall, flowering kale adds texture to pretty pots of chrysanthemums, black-eyed Susans, and ornamental peppers.Flowering kale grows slowly, so purchase large plants if you plan to enjoy them for just a few weeks in spring or fall.Flowering kale grows best in sunny locations and moist, rich soil.Plants begin to develop their colorful foliage when temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.Its gentian-blue late-season flowers often continue to bloom even as the foliage turns brilliant red-orange in fall, making an outstanding autumn display.They're must-haves to celebrate the first days of spring since they don't mind cold weather and can even take a little snow and ice!They're pretty planted in masses in the ground, but also cherished for the early color they bring to pots, window boxes, and other containers. .
How to Grow Flowering Kale. Growing Edible Flowering Kale Plants.
Native to Europe, the plants grow a mounded rosette of deeply lobed, outer leaves in a range of green hues.When you are done admiring their colorful display, you can eat the leaves in salads, and any recipe where regular vegetable garden Kale is used.Try growing Flowering Kale in rock gardens, along walking paths, in containers or window boxes. .
Is Kale an Annual or a Perennial?
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to know whether kale, Brassica oleracea, the star of many a spring or fall veggie garden, is an annual or a perennial.Called “biennials,” these plants complete their reproduction (and entire life cycle) over a two-year period.As biennials, in their first season in your garden, kale plants will put all their energy into leaf production, growing bushy and lush under the right conditions.In USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10, biennial kale will continue to produce edible leaves throughout the winter.While in colder zones, these plants will go dormant during the winter – which means their leaves may die back, but their root systems will remain alive.While the biennial is focused on reproduction in the second year, its edible leaves will not be as tender, so they may be better suited for use in cooking than eating raw.Shortly after your plants start flowering, you’ll begin to see long, slender seed pods developing. .
How to Grow and Care for Ornamental Cabbage or Kale
Common Name Ornamental cabbage, ornamental kale Botanical Name Brassica oleracea Family Brassicaceae Plant Type Annual or biennial Mature Size 12–18 inches tall and wide Sun Exposure Full sun Soil Type Rich loam, medium moisture, well-draining Soil pH Slightly acidic (5.5 to 6.5) Bloom Time Rarely flowers Flower Color Insignificant Hardiness Zones 2–11 (USDA) Native Area Southern and Western Europe.These are easy plants to grow in most sunny locations, though they can be susceptible to some of the same pests that plague other varieties of the cabbage family.They prefer coolish weather, and you may be disappointed by the speed with which they bolt and go to seed if you try to grow them in the heat of summer.Ornamental cabbage and kale don't develop their full colors unless they get a good chill from a frost.If it's hot with long daylight exposure, they will bolt (send up a flower stalk and go to seed).But if the weather is damp and the plants don't have good air circulation, they might develop fungal diseases, which usually appear as spots on the leaves.'Chidori' ornamental kale: This plant has very curly leaf edges with leaves that are purple, creamy white, or deep magenta.This plant has very curly leaf edges with leaves that are purple, creamy white, or deep magenta.'Color Up' ornamental cabbage: This grows upright with green leaves and centers of white, pink, or fuchsia.This ornamental cabbage has large, smooth leaves with center colors of pink, red, or white.This plant looks more like its edible kale cousins, with loose growth and deeply serrated leaves in red, purple, or white.'Pigeon' series ornamental cabbage: This variety has a flattened shape with red or white centers.For spring plants, cabbage or kale seeds should be started indoors about eight weeks before the last expected frost date.Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and keep the soil moist in a bright location at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.If you only want one or two plants, ornamental cabbages or kales often look more natural when grown in containers rather than scattered throughout a garden.Ornamental cabbages and kales are usually not allowed to overwinter, since the second year of these biennial plants leaves them rather unattractive as they send up flower stalks.Common disease problems include leaf spots, blackleg, black rot, and yellows.An otherwise attractive cabbage or kale that suddenly sends up a sparse and rather ugly stalk is in the process of bolting—going to flower. .