Which Kale Variety for the Front Range and Why?

Dan StaleyDecember 7, 2010


The Fam has met and we have set our general produce needs for next year, and in the fall wish to try some kale. Maybe the spring after that too if there is room in the winter garden.

Which variety(ies) do you grow, and why? Also, how big do yours get if you grow them over the winter?

Thank you in advance.


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We've grown Red Russian Kale for the past two years. It is the best tasting/sweetest kale, not to mention a beautifully colored plant -- far superior to other varieties we've tried (4 others to date.) Never bitter.
We plant our seed in March, at the same time we plant our onion seeds. I harvested the last of it just before the hard freeze in November. It takes snow very well.
We did a second planting in 2009 (September) and mulched it under 1 ft of straw. It over-wintered - low temperatures were minus 24 and lots of minus 15-17F. We tried some with only 2-3 inches of straw mulch and it froze out. We have never tried to over-winter full-grown kale. Red Russian gets about 18-24 inches tall in our garden.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Dan Staley

Thank you bw. I've been eying that one - glad to know I can still decipher catalog descriptions!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 10:55PM
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singcharlene(Zone 5)

Hi Dan,

We eat (mostly drink) kale a lot as I use it for green smoothies and stir fries so I grow it every year.

Kale is one of the easiest things I grow in the garden. Takes cold, heat, and I direct seed with great germination.

Off the top of my head I don't know all the varieties as I usually buy whatever I find on the rack at Tagawa Gardens.

I know for sure that I've grown Red Russian, an Italian variety, and a blue curly variety. I plan to get my seed basket out in the next few days and I'll see the exact varieties.

It's so good for you. Here's a yummy recipe a friend gave me with her notes as well:

Massaged Kale & Apple Salad with Gorgonzola

Bastyr adjunct faculty member Jennifer Adler M.S., C.N. contributed this recipe. I love to watch Jennifer work with food because she loves to use her hands. She touches and loves food into magnificent flavor and tenderness. Jennifer likes to make a bunch of this salad at once to ensure that she have dark leafy greens ready when busy days are ahead. It tastes better as the days go by.

1 bunch kale
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted (or Sweet Glazed Nuts)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup currants
3/4 cup diced apple, (1/2 apple)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

De-stem kale by pulling leaf away from the stem. Wash leaves. Spin or pat dry. Stack leaves, rollup and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Put kale in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, massage salt into kale with your hands for 2 minutes. To toast seeds, put in a dry skillet over low to medium heat and stir constantly for a few minutes until they change color and give off a nutty aroma.
Put kale in a fresh bowl and discard any leftover liquid. Stir onion, currants, apple and toasted seeds into kale. Dress with oil and vinegar and toss. Taste for salt and vinegar, adding more if necessary. When at desired flavor, toss in cheese.

Preparation time 15 minutes
Makes 6 servings


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 12:35AM
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Dan Staley

Holy Cow! I got fam approval to make this recipe Charlene. Thank you & I'll let you know how it turns out.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 1:00PM
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