Spis Bladene perennial kale in flower

Spis Bladene perennial kale in flower

Spis Bladene perennial kale in flower

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.Ā  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.Ā  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.Ā  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:

http://sussexrambler.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/gardening-tips-during-chelsea-flower.html (a lovely photo)

http://thisandthat-robert.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/brassicas.html
(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.

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13 thoughts on “Spis Bladene perennial kale in flower

  1. marigold says:

    It looks and sounds gorgeous. I’d love to try Spis Bladene when I am settled in a new garden – if you ever find youself with seed to share can I beg a few? šŸ˜€ . I tried Nine Star Perennial broccoli a couple of years ago and it was very sucessful in the first year, but I didn’t have space to leave it to see how it did after another winter. It also had very pretty white flowers.

  2. Bugs from Esculent Etc says:

    Thank you for the visit and comment Marigold! You would be extremely welcome to any spare seed – I may even have a bit to spare now but if you want to wait I am sure I will have some in future – possibly even plants as we do visit Sussexshire occasionally, so let me know when circumstances are right, and I will give you what I can šŸ™‚

    Haven’t managed to try the perennial broccoli – I had a packet but suspect that it just didn’t produce good plants. The great thing about kale of course is that you can just pick a few leaves at a go if you want, which can be very handy. I think I’m developing a slight kale obsession actually…

    • marigold says:

      Thank Bugs, I’ll keep you posted about circumstances šŸ™‚ The Nine Star broccoli leaves were good to eat when young – the main problem was that I had too much of it in a short space of time and got sick of the stuff. It went over rather quickly if not picked frequently.

  3. Joy T (@betonyjoy) says:

    Hello! I’m Betonyjoy on Twitter. I got Spis Bladene from HSL last year and did grow some plants which unfortunately fell foul of my depression and were never potted on from 3 inch pots and consequently died. Poor little things. Inspired by your tweet and this blog entry I have just sown more seed today. Hopefully this year they will join my Daubenton kale and wild cabbage in the garden and I can trial their perennial-ness.

    Really enjoyed catching up on your blog from the start, you have a very entertaining writing-style.

  4. Bugs from Esculent Etc says:

    Hello Joy – how lovely to have you here! I’m glad to have been of any help and your comment is so kind, it has absolutely made my day – thank you! I’ve just found a tiny pinch of Westphalian kale which a chum sent me – I believe I’ve seen it in the HSL catalogue but I don’t remember anything about it. I may have to try to persuade my lovely assistant who does most of the heavy work that we really need a kale bed for important horticultural research…

    I’d love to hear more about your wild cabbage (I hope that can’t be misinterpreted) – it’ll be interesting to compare results.

  5. skrubtudsen says:

    “Actually the name sounds more like Norwegian, than Danish, to me on reflection”
    In fact it came from Denmark – I know the lady who sent the seeds to HSL. Unfortunately she don’t remember exactly where she had it from. She suggest it could be from the wild kales on the cliffs of Dover, or be a cultivar of Marrow-stem kale. And “Spis bladene” was really just an instruction on how to use this kale. It has no old Danish history (nor Norwegian).
    By the way, Danish and Norwegian language are very similar, some would argue dialects.
    PS. I’m Danish.

  6. Bugs from Esculent Etc says:

    Thanks for dropping by and for the extra information about Spis bladene’s background, Soren. That makes it even more interesting; I personally haven’t come across a white flowered type and such large flowers, too, and will look in to marrow-stem kale…which is also new to me (unless I know it under another name). I studied Norwegian for a couple of years which is probably why I feel it’s more familiar like that, but as you say it is very similar to Danish, which I’m much less familiar with.

    I really like the plant by the way so please pass on my thanks to the original donor if the occasion arises! Have you eaten or grown it yourself?

    PS I’m a keen reader of your blog – and have even tried to read the original Danish version a few times! I have particularly earmarked something you said once about grey peas and naked barley grown in a polyculture, for future use. I must go and reread it as I am hoping to grow a HSL pea that might be suitable this year.

    • skrubtudsen says:

      I have not grown Spis bladene myself, and Anne Mette don’t have it anymore – my guess is, that nobody grows it in Denmark. I’ve asked around with no luck. When I look at the flowers and leaves, I think you may have to look into some of the Portuguese kales – I remember seeing lots of white flowering kales in the gardens of Madeira. Anne Mette don’t say it must be either wild kale from Dover or Marrow-stem kale, just that she think it probably was one of those.

  7. Bugs from Esculent Etc says:

    Thanks for visiting Creatityourself! I’m unfamiliar with the zones of the US…I see that on your blog you’ve listed perennials that overwinter for you (http://createityourself.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/edible-perennials-for-zone-5/) but none of those look like they keep their leaves over winter – we didn’t have any significant snow here last winter but I suspect the kale might be vulnerable to heavy loads on its stalks. I would give it a go myself, though…

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