*Back in stock autumn 2020*
About Taunton Deane perennial kale
Taunton Deane also known as cottager’s kale. The name Cottager’s or Crofter’s Kale is a reference to its everyday use by ordinary folk for centuries. ‘Taunton Deane’ is local to the Somerset area in the UK and has probably been in cultivation by local people there for well over 100yrs. These plants grow huge (up to 2m tall and 2m wide with a woody trunk. They produce the best tasting tender leaves, and once established can be harvested for most of the year. Really productive for the first five years they slow down a little after that but have been known to reach nine or ten years old.
How to grow Taunton Deane perennial kale from a stem cutting
Full instructions are sent with your order, rooting stem cuttings is really easy to do. A stem cutting is a thick section of stem from a mature plant with a growing tip. Place your stem cutting in a deep pot of compost with the growing tip above the surface and the stem below the surface. Make sure there is enough room for roots to form in the pot, you can always trim the stem a little if you need to. Some people like to use rooting hormone, but this is not essential. You can also place a ventilated clear plastic bag over your cutting to help it root faster. After 4-6 weeks you should see a bit of new growth on the cutting and start to see white roots emerging from the bottom of the pot. Let your plant get to a good size before planting out with about 6 true leaves. You can pot it on one more time if you wish to get it to a really large size before planting out.
When you are ready, place it in a deep planting hole and firm it down. It does not need a particularly well cultivated bed, just an area free of weeds and grass. We grow some of ours as an edible wind break on the edge of the vegetable garden. Give plants an occasional mulch of compost and prune off any dead branches to keep them thriving. You can prune plants to stop them becoming too large if you have limited space.
How to propagate further plants from your Taunton Deane perennial kale
Once your plant has established and has nice bushy growth, you will start to see side stems with ridges. These can be used to make your own stem cuttings and you can endlessly propagate all of your future plants yourself.
Taunton Deane perennial kale – pests & diseases
Taunton Deane does suffer from the same pests as regular brassicas but has far greater resilience to them in our experience. You may need to protect young plants from slugs, cabbage whites and pigeons until they become established.
After a year or two they should be large enough to survive without any protection. We don’t use any crop covers with ours and although Taunton Deane can be attacked by cabbage whites, even the most well nibbled plants bounce back completely by autumn. We have also found that interspersed plantings of perennial kales make great companions – greatly reducing the damage to regular brassica crops by acting as pest beacons, whilst having the innate capacity to survive them.
How to harvest and eat Taunton Deane perennial kale
Let your plant get to the size of a small shrub before you start harvesting. Once mature you can harvest leaves all year round. Use exactly as any other kale. It has the most delicious nutty taste and surprisingly tender considering the size of the plants.