My obsession with kale has finally reached its apex with the discovery of what is known as Walking Stick Kale (aka Jersey Kale, Walking Stick Cabbage). In addition to providing tons of giant, edible leaves, it can grow up to 6-10 feet in a season! And, if you live in zone 7 or higher, this plant is a short-lived perennial, lasting 2-3 years in the garden.
Brassica oleracea var. longata is straight out of a Dr Suess book with its ridiculous height and mop of oversized leaves. It originates in the Channel Islands, where it is grown for its sturdy stem. This stem, when dried and varnished, is actually used as a walking stick...yes, really...a walking stick.
There seems to be little information about growing Walking Stick Kale. However, kale is generally very easy to grow and requires little effort on the part of the gardener. Kale germinates in cooler temperatures, so I would suggest sowing seeds in late winter/very early spring out in the garden. Alternately, seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost.
Optimal growing conditions would include full sun and consistent watering. However, kale is a sturdy vegetable and I suspect it will tolerate some shade and drought without any problem. I would suggest it be grown in well-composted soil and given fairly regular doses of fish fertilizer to support its intense growth habit. I also suggest staking to ensure a straight, sturdy stem.Seeds for Walking Stick Kale were not easy to find...I finally located some from a company called Hirt's Gardens. I haven't used their products before, but they were timely in filling the order. Hirt's has a wide variety of unusual veggies...it was fun browsing their inventory.
And, if you want to learn all about kale, check out The Book of Kale: The Easy to Grow Superfood. How could you not love a book with a title like that?
I can't wait to get these seeds started and out in the garden! Stay tuned for updates...