We are increasingly interested in perennial vegetables and last year we were excited to get Spis Bladene, a perennial kale, in our allocation from the Heritage Seed Library. (Join them. Join them now.).
According to the HSL it’s an old Danish variety and the name simply means “Eat the leaves” – which is obviously quite encouraging in a kale. Actually the name sounds more like Norwegian, than Danish, to me on reflection…I am hoping it might also be possible to spis blomstene too (thank you, Google Translate) as we love kale flower spikes.
The HSL’s description notes the unusual white flowers and they are beautiful, a good inch across, and with a slight pleasant scent. Because we moved at the end of last season we were unable to leave the plants in situ and test their perennial nature out (for all I know, our buyer may be enjoying them now – I really hope so!) but brought four of them in a bucket to see if we can plant them out. One has flowered as you can see above, and we’ve cut the flower spike off another.
We did get a chance to eat a number of the enormous leaves this plant produces. The HSL description is peppery but we found them less so than other kales, and remarkably tender even at a large size. It’s a very promising plant and I am looking forward to getting to know it better with the hope of developing a lasting relationship where it won’t mind me chopping bits off it to eat with pasta.
We won’t be saving seed from these this year as I don’t think that’s enough plants to produce a good harvest of diverse seed but have a fair bit of the original packet left to replant this year – we will also be trying Real Seeds‘ Asturian Tree cabbage, and Daubenton, from the HSL again. If things work out, we can try to propagate these vegetatively or, with care, since brassicas are such floozies, from seed if any of them flower in the future.
I had a quick Google to see what other people thought of this variety and these bloggers have some useful information:
(more information on the strange name of this variety)
If you’ve grown or know more about Spis Bladene – or any other perennial kales – I would love to hear your comments or suggestions.