Lacinato Kale, "Wild Garden Strain" (Cavolo Nero, Dinosaur)
Favorite spring and fall kale with deep green/blue/black color and blistered, "dinosaur skin" texture on strap-shaped leaves. Holds its shape and texture in soups and pasta sauces. Nice flavor, even better in cold weather. Overwintered plants make tender sweet edible flower shoots as well. Beautiful contrast to other vegetables or to flowers. I like this in tubs by the kitchen door with flowers and contrasting lettuces.
Our seed is Frank Morton's improved "Wild Garden" strain, which is hardier to heat and cold, and more productive than standard strains. However, no Lacinato kale is as cold-hardy as the Siberian kales like White Russian. This is an OSSI-pledged open source variety. Brassica oleracea. 60 days to full size. 80 seeds
The Open Source Seed Initiative exists so that breeders who originate new varieties can protect them from exploitation and patenting by corporations. It means that the breeder has freely given up patent rights in order to keep the variety in the public domain forever. The OSSI pledge reads: "You have the freedom to use these OSSI-pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others' use of these seeds or their derivatives, by patents or other means, and to include this pledge in any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives."
Very cold-hardy winter standbys, whose flavor is sweetened by frost. Very easy to grow.
Like all brassicas, these like a soil with plenty of compost and some lime (pH 6.5 to 7.) Usually sown in trays or pots and transplanted when space opens up in the garden. Transplant after there are at least 6 leaves, and before they are pot-bound. Bury up to the base of the first leaves, firm well. If the weather is hot, dry, or windy, remove the bottom pair of leaves to minimize shock.
Siberian kales are extremely cold-hardy, surviving temperatures well below zero. Their flavor is best when sweetened by frost.
Collards are actually a non-heading, cabbage, with smooth, tender leaves and a mild flavor. They don't have to be used all at once like a head of cabbage; pick leaves as needed. They are a standby for meals all year. Many folks--like my mother--only survived the Great Depression because home-grown collards were available year-round. Traditionally served with bacon and a sprinkle of vinegar in the South. The Portuguese national dish is a stew of collards, sausage, and beans. I like them lightly cooked and served cold as a winter salad, too.
Tree Collards are a unique perennial hardy in zones 8-10. It doesn't usually make seed. It has seldom been commercially available, instead gifted from neighbor to neighbor as a "passalong plant," primarily in African-American gardens. We are grateful to all those generations of gardeners who preserved it for us.
Seed-saving: Lacinato kale and collards are the same species as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi--Brassica oleracea. Siberian kales are Brassica napus, like rutabagas. Turnips and Asian greens are another species, Brassica rapa. Texel greens are Brassica carinata. All varieties within the same species will cross with each other.