Kalards: A Kale-Collard-Cabbage Cross

Since folks seemed to like my Giant Purple Bean, I thought I share one of my other favorites. I’ve taken to calling this guy “Kalards” as it’s a Kale / Collard cross. The collard in question is Green Glaze, which is itself a cross with a cabbage. I suspect that some of the Purple Cabbage That Would Not Die is in the mix, too. The F1 of it crossed with kale had no purple other than a tinge to the stems, and I think it was an F2 of that kale which crossed in with the Green Glaze. (But the reality of open pollination crossing is that you don’t every really know exactly who crossed with what. It’s an ‘after the fact’ game of “What do you think it looks like?”…)

In this picture, you also get some of the Runner Bean leaves along with their wonderful red flowers. I just love the interplay of light, red, green, sheen…

If you click on it to get the giant picture, you can see the little “tufts” of leaf on the stem before the main leaf. The particular Dragon Kale I used had that “tuft” and it confirms the cross. The seeds I planted for this batch also had some with the dusky darker color of Dragon Kale. I “rogued out” those, though I wish I hadn’t… It might have been an interesting more kale like / cabbage flavored result. Oh well, a lot more of that batch of seeds is in the freezer, should I get time to come back to that step.

Kalards - A Dragon Kale, Green Glaze Collards, Cabbage cross

Kalards - A Dragon Kale, Green Glaze Collards, Cabbage cross

These guys have been growing in this spot in Darwin’s Garden (c) for about 3 years now. I’ve collected seeds in 2 years and have an ample supply, so I’m torn between the desire to grow out more of them, and the desire to see just how perennial this guy is. Right now, we’re going for perennial… mostly as I’m too lazy to deal with it right now and have other things to do (like make some money… the market looks to be taking the positive news flow and The Fed decision for free money, putting it in the context of a Dimocrat Bloodbath, and running higher rather than fade. Up, flat, up ,flat, up,… rather than rolling. – But I digress..)

They are planted in a 4 x 4 foot wire ‘cage’ of dog run material. This lets the bunnies trim the sides, but not harvest the whole thing… The Eastern 2 x 4 swath is Runner Beans (that then climb 15 feet up the tree…) and the Southern 2 x 4 feet has a variety of things being “tested” from a rosemary to some potatoes from seed. IFF they survive, those will be one stubborn potato. (I don’t thin, I let them fight it out…)

The house is directly to the West, about 4 feet away. Yeah, they are in a valley about 4 feet wide between tall things. Sun? Maybe a couple of hours a day… Fertilizer? Only if a bunny decides to deliver some.

So here they are in “context” so you can see the overplanting:

Kalards - In the context of Darwin's Garden and over planting

Kalards - In the context of Darwin's Garden and over planting

Crowded? Oh yeah… Also, in a square just south of this one (in the background) are the tomatoes. You can see where they have come down the lower right side and filled in that 2 foot wide stone walkway… I think I like that particular tomato… It “has attitude” ;-) “Mortgage Lifter” I think. (I’d need to follow the vine back to the particular tomato in question, but it’s not the Roma and doesn’t look like the Siberian, and the Mortgage Lifter was on this corner of that square…)

So here is this cabbage family plant, that makes nice edible leaves year round, pays no attention at all to cold, does OK during the summer here, does not have the strong bitter flavor of typical collards, and is not at all finicky about anything. Just grows. And it’s a perennial in California.

The only ‘fault’ is seems to have is that the spring / summer growth 2nd year is more ‘small thin leaves, lots of yellow flowers / seeds’ and it waits for fall / winter to make the lush leaves you see here. I’m “good with that” as during spring I have lots of other things to eat. Having greens in the middle of winter is feature enough. And the seeds mean I could plant a square of them for the first year lush leaves if I wanted to do that.

Right now I’m trying to pick a square to clear to plant a load of the F4 from this planting. (There are actually 2 of them here…) Partly to assure it’s a stable cross and partly just to have greens all winter long.

The only “issue” I’ve had with them is an occasional bit of leaf miners. You can see one leaf with a couple of holes in it. If you look closely at the lower left corner, you will see a small yellow-green flower on something vaguely like giant Potato Leaves. That is a Tobacco plant. I’ve let them naturalize outside the squares. First off, the bunnies don’t eat them, so they CAN grow… I was getting tired of bare dirt… But more importantly, they trap leaf miners. Flip one of those fat leaves over and you find lots of little white egg dots. They never develop. The Nicotine kills them. So I decided to let them grow next to this square too. Notice that most of the leaves on the Kalards show no holes…

And finally, for the true eagle eye in the group. Yes, that is a sorghum under the Runner Beans and near the Kalards. It’s perennial too and re-sprouted from it’s roots. I keep meaning to “reward” it with a proper grow out and propagation, but often forget before the birds get to the seeds or before the other plants shade it into submission… Maybe next year… Hey, just ’cause it’s dark doesn’t mean it can’t grow and survive…

Welcome To Darwin’s Garden …. Survivors Will Be Eaten.


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to Kalards: A Kale-Collard-Cabbage Cross

  1. Pascvaks says:

    For a “Kale-Collard-Cabbage Cross” I think you may get something more radical if you were to call it “Kallage”;-)

  2. PhilJourdan says:

    Beans? Yes!

    kale? Collards? Sorry, why would anyone do anything other than exterminate those nasty things! ;)

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    Unfortunately, and against my better advice, several members of my family have decided to pursue the vegetarian lifestyle. This, as they say “has issues”…

    So one of the ways of getting past those issues is to eat a lot more leaves. What my folks and grandfolks called “greens”… And the Cabbage family is particularly rich in the needed vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, etc.

    They also grow in winter. (At least here in California).

    So if you want a great package of nutrients that grows in winter and doesn’t light your mouth on fire like a Black Spanish Radish, there are limited choices. Especially if 2 of the vegetarians will not eat a turnip or radish at all.

    With that said, part of my design goal is to stamp out as much of the kale / collards flavor as possible and get more of the mild cabbage flavor, in a package that grows like Kale or Collards. Kale is widely recognized for growing under snow. Collards for growing even in the South in Summer. The combination doesn’t seem to care what time of year it is, it just grows…. I’m pretty close to ‘done’ on the selection process for this cross, and the result is rather close to what I was hoping to get.

    I’ve not tried making sauerkraut out of it yet (it probably is a bit too green / dry for that, but we’ll see). Try as I might, I can not shake the ancestral desire for sauerkraut and sausages… but any attempt to make head cabbage in my tiny garden has failed. Either from my planting it in too warm a time (when IS it cool in California? ;-) or from it wanting too much space ( 1 square per cabbage? No Way!). Or just from a plague of aphids. (Though now that I’ve got some wasp colonies established, perhaps they would take care of that problem…) At most, I’ve gotten small heads that were not worth the effort. (Perhaps cabbages are too sensitive to survive in Darwin’s Garden…) Most has gone to the bunnies. (Though I’ll be trying Jersey Wakefield this winter, I hope…)

    So why have these? As an industrial strength no-pampering cabbage like vegetable that is in tune with California climate and Darwin’s Garden mandates. And doesn’t taste bitter like Kale or Collards…

    (Oh, and I actually like the taste of Kale, in a “like stinky cheese too” kind of way ;-)

  4. PhilJourdan says:

    I applaud your efforts! But childhood prejudices preclude me in sharing in the fruits of your labor. While I love cabbage in all forms (Sauer kraut, Kimchi, cole slaw, raw, cooked and stuffed), I thoroughly hate kale and collards (and I grew up in the south!).

    It is a great diet food, because you cannot get fat when you do not eat it. ;)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    I agree with you on the typical collard greens. Green Glaze is a bit better than most, though, being half cabbage. Kale has a curious attraction for me. Hard to explain, like stinky cheeses…

    I’d love to grow cabbages (and I’m still trying…). It’s just that between the particular kinds of pests I have and the fact that California has a bizarre planting schedule compared to anywhere else; I’ve not quite “worked it out” yet. Thus doing something else until “I get it”. (Mostly I think I just get it planted too late and warmth hits so fast it bolts on me. The lack of any pesticide use also lets a variety of things chow down… )

    I know, I could actually ask someone in the area what the right variety and schedule might be, but that would be too easy ;-)

  6. carole says:

    Thanks for the tip of companion planting the tobacco for pest control. We are going to do a garden next year, and don’t like to use pesticides.

  7. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “Try as I might, I can not shake the ancestral desire for sauerkraut and sausages…”

    I may be a vegetarian, but I sympathize. I have not tried growing head cabbage in the garden but even if you have to buy a head, do try making some of your own sauerkraut. It is easy and well worth the effort! Then pick up a few of the vegetarian faux sausages that are becoming more common these days. Yeah, I am vegetarian, but don’t expect me to pass up sauerkraut and sausages! Yum. :)

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