Taunton Deane Kale
I can’t remember when I first came across a mention of growing Taunton Deane Kale (Brassica oleracea v. Acephala). I have a feeling that it might have been mentioned by Charles Dowding on one of his, ‘no dig’ gardening YouTube videos. In any case, I have long wanted to add one to my kale patch.
The opportunity came in spring of 2020 when a friend alerted me to Incredible Vegetables and I found they had stem cuttings for sale online. I took the plunge and I am pleased to say my new pet seems to be doing very well.
The instructions that came with the cutting suggested it would prove to be robust and easy going. However as a Scot who had just paid £8.50 for a single cutting, I was not going to take any chances. I treated it to a doze of hormone root powder, a ventilated poly cover and pride of place in my (then) cold greenhouse.
In truth, it never looked back. I see from the label above that I potted it up 7 April. This photo was taken 6 or 7 weeks later. Looking fine!
Taunton Deane (or Cottager’s Kale) has a long history. By one name or the other it is mentioned in gardening journals from 1859 onwards and appears to have been the result of a cross between a kale and and an older purple sprouting broccoli. It was very popular in Victorian Vegetable Gardens.
Habit and use
It appears to be a strong grower and easy to manage. Examples often grow more than two metres tall and wide and are very hardy. Quite what that will mean when they are growing in the North-East of Scotland I am not sure.
Being perennials they withstand pests very well, survive all kinds of weather and produce new growth each new season. They are extremely nutritious and tasty and are tender enough to eat raw. They slow down after about 5 years, so taking cuttings every now and again to produce new stock is recommended. They may also need protection for pigeons and deer over the winter months.