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.Garden fowl love to peck away and munch on leafy greens — even if they’re a little stringy and astringent for your pallet.In fact, we have an entire series of lessons in our program focused on growing, harvesting and eating kale and many other delicious plants. .

Yes, You Can Eat Kale Buds (and They're Delicious) – Garden Betty

Pick a handful next time and try them raw or cooked!But to me, those first few kale buds (also known as kale flowers, kale florets, or kale raab) are the start of a new life—in the form of edible flowers that are surprisingly tender and sweet, especially if you’ve had a very cold winter, which brings out their sweetness more.What are kale buds?Can you really eat kale flowers?Take broccoli raab, for example.And did you know that a head of broccoli and head of cauliflower is actually just the flower bud of those plants?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.Read more: 11 Vegetables You Grow That You Didn’t Know You Could Eat.Harvesting kale buds is a great way to get more out of your garden by doing less (after all, it means growing more food without planting more plants) so don’t be afraid to try it next time.You can pick them as soon as they appear and eat them raw or cook them—both ways are delicious.Your plant is at the end of its life cycle and focusing its energy on producing seeds for the next generation of plants.Can you eat the flowers from other brassica plants? .

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. .

So my italian kale is starting to bud and bolt...

I thought that Kale could in many cases keep growing for two or more years, but all of these plants are starting to flower now for some reason, and a couple look like they are bolting.I think the flowers and leaves will be perfectly good to eat, I just don't want to kill the plant too early, or wait too late to harvest the edible bits. .

Please Do Eat the (Kale) Flowers

When the brassica vegetables bolt after the long winter, the flowers they produce are tender and delicious.Raab is a tangible, edible sign that not only has the kale (or broccoli or what have you) "overwintered" and survived into spring, but so have we.Of course, when these plants bolt, they're at the end of their life cycle, sending out their seeds to produce the next generation.Savoring a new vegetable can be a part of that spring ritual of rebirth, if only with a meal to mark the passage of time and wonder of nature. .

How to Harvest and Save Kale Seeds

In the last few decades, nutrient rich kale has become widely popular as a healthy staple for meals and snacks.This easy-to-grow leafy green thrives in cool temperatures, and a generous selection of cultivars make it a beautiful and delicious addition to the garden.With plenty of open pollinated varieties to choose from, reproducing plants true to their parents is easy.In spring, this cold weather brassica is one of the first plants to awaken and quickly yields fresh leaves early in the season.By summer, plants have finished their life cycle and will set buds before sending up tall flower stalks.If stems begin to flop as they mature, gather a handful together and attach them to a bamboo stake for support to preserve your harvest.Tie off the opening with garden twine then hang the bags in a cool, dry location out of the wind.Once the pods are thoroughly dry, in 10 to 21 days, shake and slap the stems inside the bag to dislodge the seeds.Or, on a breezy day, use a mesh strainer or winnowing basket to gently toss seeds up in the air and let the breeze take away the chaff.Temperatures of around 50°F with a humidity of 40 percent are ideal – which makes the produce drawer in your refrigerator a sweet spot for storage.If your unheated areas flirt with temperatures close to freezing, place your seed containers in a small insulated beverage cooler before storing.You’ll never have to buy seedlings again, and you can create your own heirloom lineage of plants – perfect for the self-sustaining or organic gardener.Plus, you’ll never have that excruciating wait for your local garden shops or direct order companies to be stocked for spring before starting your plants! .

When and How to Harvest Kale Florets

Each little green bud on a head of broccoli will open into a cool yellow flower if you are too late to the harvest.The important take-away is that brassica plants make all kinds of edible parts beyond what you think of as the vegetable sold at the grocery store.Nothing much is harvestable right now in the hunger gap of early spring, but stalwart kale sees warmer days ahead and starts pumping out the florets.My Lacinato Kale is already in full flower, while my Red Russian is pumping out florets like mad.Harvest from the variety that’s ready, while the floret buds are still tight and the stalks remain tender.I notice greater taste variation in the leaves of the kale varieties I grow than in their florets.I’m never able to eat enough to strip my plants of all their florets, and eventually the remaining shoots flower and become food for the bees. .


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