Monday, 9 February 2009

Chou Daubenton

Chou Daubenton is the first of the perennial Kale's I will talk about and one of the more readily available perennial Brassicas.

Plants are naturally branching, and form quite a neat mound eventually attaining a size of 3ft x 3ft ('Daubenton' is actually quite attractive as Kale's go, and wouldn't look out of place in an ornamental bed).

The plants live for 5-7 years and are easily propagated by semi ripe cuttings using the usual techniques (flowering is rare and seed is not available).

So far 'Daubenton' has been less affected by pests and disease than its biennial cousins, with Woodpigeon's being a notable exception. Woodpigeon damage is however no worse than that found on other Brassicas, and can be controlled in the usual manner.

When eaten raw, as with most Kale's, there is a slightly bitter overtone during the summer, but it is very slight and I find it quite pleasant. And like other Brassicas it sweetens after frost. I would say the flavour and texture is as good as 'Ragged Jack' and only marginally inferior to Black Tuscan Kale.

Cooked 'Daubenton' is as good as the best of them, and you can harvest individual leaves, or cut the individual heads and cook them whole. My personal preference is to harvest individual leaves as it doesn't spoil the look of the plant; but they will re-sprout vigorously when the heads are harvested, so long as you don't over crop individual plants.

And if all this isn't enough to convince you that 'Daubenton' is worth growing, there is a variegated form with slightly grayer leaves and irregular yellow variegation around the leaf edges.

In all other respects it is like the non variegated form; perhaps a little less vigorous but no more so than could be expected from a variegated selection. It is a little more difficult to come by but well worth the effort.

'Daubenton' is available from Fabre-Graines (France), and PlantesPet Jardins (France), both sites are in French. You may also find other suppliers if you Google "Chou Daubenton".

You may also want to read a rather informative post on perennial Brassicas at Homegrown Goodness. Just follow the link if you want to check it out:

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Why a perennial platter?

The reason for my interest perennial crops is that they're less commonly grown than their annual and biennial cousins, and once established perennials generally require less input.

I'm not a gardener that enjoys the processes of sowing, thinning, potting up, planting out, and generally faffing about with annual vegetables; I'm also becoming more inclined to pursue permaculture and practice zero tillage. And while I'm not a permaculturalist in the purest sense, I do follow a lot of the practices of permaculture, so the move towards perennials is a natural progression for me.

Another motivation for writing this blog has been the lack of information available on some of these crops. A good case in point is perennial Kale. There appear to be a lot of people that have read snippets and heard whispers that are looking for these plants, but no one seem to know much in the way of facts or where to get them.

Having been lucky enough to track down some of these perennial brassicas along with some other rare perennial crops, I plan to review them here and provide information (when commercial sources are available) as to where you can buy them. I also plan to discuss my efforts to develop new cultivars, and my attempts to perennialize annual crops through hybridisation.

So that's pretty much it, I intend to put together a post on the perennial Kale in a few days, hope you enjoy.