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. .

Is Kale an Annual?

acephala) is a popular cool-weather vegetable that is tolerant of frost and produces edible leaves that can be cooked or eaten raw.Tip Kale is a biennial that many people grow as an annual, advises Cornell University.Start your kale crop by planting seeds in your garden three months prior to the first frost or start seeds indoors and transplant them into the garden in the spring about four to six weeks before the final frost, advises Cornell University.Alternatively, you can wait for the leaves to mature and harvest the whole plant, advises the University of Minnesota Extension.Proper care will ensure your kale produces tender, flavorful leaves.Floating row covers protect plants from pests such as cutworms, cabbage aphids and flea beetles. .

How to grow kale – from seed to harvesting

It is hardy and grows best in cooler temperatures – the cold weather gives the leaves a sweeter flavor.It’s a tolerant plant that can survive cold temperatures and shady conditions – just three hours of sunshine is enough although it grows well in full sun to light shade in a well-drained soil.A regular watering routine will help to prevent the leaves from wilting in warm, dry weather.Most kales are biennials, meaning they will take around two years from seedling before they eventually bolt and produce flowers and seeds.However, if you’re growing kale for its harvest of leaves it’s more likely that you’ll replace it every year and it will be more successful that way.Kale can grow just as happily in pots or raised beds as it does in open soil.However, the plants can reach up to two feet high when mature, so use a large pot – at least 12 in (30cm) diameter – filled with compost mixed with grit to improve drainage.Redbor – Vivid burgundy-colored leaves on a striking plant that would look good in a flowerbed let alone a vegetable patch.Kapitan – the classic curly kale, with densely curled, deep green leaves.Yurok – a hybrid Lacinato-type kale, highly recommended by Don McCulley, owner of Swallowtail Garden Seeds, who says it 'has an exceptionally long harvest window.Its robust, 30 inch tall plants produce heavily, and are highly resistant to frost and heat.'.Kale is fairly resistant to pests, compared with other members of the brassica family, however young plants will need some protection from birds.Amy Enfield adds: 'There are several garden pests that like to munch on kale – cabbageworms, harlequin bugs, and cabbage aphids.Black and orange harlequin bugs usually feed on old, stressed kale plants.Gray-green cabbage aphids are usually found clustered in the folds of frilly kale leaves. .

Is Kale a Perennial? Does Kale Come Back Every Year

Generally, curly kale is grown as an annual for its tender green leaves.In the first year, it will put on lots of green growth (mainly leaves and stems).So, in the case of curly kale, the plant will produce its lovely tender green leaves in the summer, fall, and even throughout winter in some zones, in its first year of growth.Unfortunately, once your kale has started to bolt, you’ll find the leaves turn quite tough.The good news is that if you’re growing kale in zones 7 to 10, you’ll be able to harvest the leaves all winter long.You might be able to extend the growth stage a little by snipping off the flower buds as they start to grow.To keep your kale growing for the longest possible time, you must remember to harvest only the bottom leaves.Slice these shoots off the trunk very carefully so that you don’t damage the main plant.As long as you’ve harvested only the lowest leaves, your kale will continue to grow.However, if your winters do get very cold, it’s a good idea to mulch your plants heavily, as this helps to keep the roots warmer.When you allow your kale to complete its natural cycle, you’ll be able to harvest the seeds.The only drawback of allowing your kale to grow through its second year is that when the plant starts to bolt, the leaves will get much tougher.To encourage your kale to thrive and grow as much as is possible, you have to supply it with plenty of nitrogen fertilizer.You’ll find the most annoying pests that attack your kale plants are the white cabbage moth or, rather, the caterpillars of this insect.Therefore, if you’re regularly harvesting your kale leaves, you might be inadvertently removing the eggs that these moths lay. .

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.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.Ornamental cabbage and kale look especially good in a large grouping or as edging for a garden bed, where their purplish hues blend well with other fall colors.These are cool-season plants that are usually grown in the fall or early spring, discarded as the weather turns very cold or as the warm summer months arrive.They will last longest if conditions are kept relatively cool, but even in the best circumstances, you should expect a relatively short lifespan for ornamental Brassica plants brought indoors.Ornamental kales and cabbages have been developed for their bright color and dramatic texture, while edibles are selected for their sweet taste and nutritional value. .

Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale are coming increasingly popular with gardeners looking for a cool weather decorative plant that can replace tired flowering annuals or mums.Cabbage and kale prefer the cool weather that can survive to temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.The fact that they last very late into the fall and early winter, pretty much assures you will have color in your garden for a good chunk of the year.If you only need one or two plants, this is where they work great in your containers as a compliment to fall mums.Mix in a purple cabbage along with a white kale and a dash or two of English ivy on the edge and even Martha will be jealous.So as we get into those cool crisp days of autumn, break out the canvas and brush (aka garden bed and shovel) and paint your own Picasso using the wonderful cool weather plants of ornamental cabbage and kale. .

Overwintering: Crops that can withstand the cold and how to help

Overwintering usually refers to the practice of leaving cold-hardy, healthy, established crops in the ground in the fall with the expectation that they will provide harvests through the dark and cold months of winter.During these coldest months of the year, crop selection is very limited and plant growth is much slower than during the principal part of the growing season.The good news is that it is easy to choose which crops to overwinter and there is very little work to do besides harvesting, protecting plants from frost and watching out for pest damage.In fact, overwinter gardening typically involves only a few minutes of work per week, checking on your crops.The bad news is that, despite all of your best efforts, it is still possible to lose winter crops to the vagaries of weather and animal pests.Many of these slightly more sensitive crops benefit greatly from some sort of protection such as a cold-frame or floating row cover; or you can simply harvest them earlier in the winter during November and December before serious frosts have set in. .

Does cabbage come back every year?

Nurture it, water it, and even work in some nutrient-rich manure into the first inch of soil, taking care not to injure the roots in the process.In just under a week, you should start to see some small sprouts beginning to shoot up around the outer edge of the original head’s stub.In fact, these mini cabbages are surprisingly preferred by many chefs to the larger main heads because of their extra tender texture and mild flavor. .

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