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Taunton Deane & Daubenton’s Kale

Taunton Deane kale (Brassica oleracea var Acephala) a very old variety of perennial kale that keeps growing for years giving a tasty supply of greens all year round. It is also known as cottager’s kale and would have been common in vegetable gardens up until Victorian times. Plants can grow more than two metres tall and wide and are very hardy. Being perennials they withstand pests very well, survive all kinds of weather and have a flourish of new growth each spring and summer. They are extremely nutritious as they have many years to accumulate minerals and have a great flavour and are tender enough to eat raw. Taunton Deane plants do slow down after about 5 years, so it is worth making cuttings every now and again to produce new stock. 

How to make cuttings from your Daubenton’s & Taunton Deane kale

You can make new plants really easily by pinching off side shoots that have knobbly ridges on the stem. After trimming the stems put into a pot of compost, remove any larger leaves leaving the growing tips. Within a week or two the plant will have perked up and will start forming roots within about a month. You can also put cuttings straight into the ground with two thirds of the stem below the surface of the soil. These plants are truly amazing, the cuttings seem to have some special properties producing roots really quickly. We make cuttings from October through to May – these are fantastic plants to add to your veg garden to give you another green leafy vegetable to eat without any work at all.

Perennial Kales make great companions…We have also discovered that since we have populated our vegetable area with perennial kales, we have been able to grow our ‘regular’ kales without nets. Naked Cavolo Nero! who would have thought it! The perennial kales act as wonderful companions to the others as they take all the heat, leaving the others relatively undamaged by caterpillars. The perennial kales do get nibbled but shrug it off and have such resilience that they bounce back like nothing has happened.

We also grow another perennial kale called Daubenton’s (Brassica oleracea var Ramosa) which has much more of a horizontal habit and doesn’t grow as large as the Taunton Deane. It does however grow for years and years, even decades in some cases. Both varieties do on rare occasions set seed, but propagating vegetatively from cuttings ensures that you keep the true characteristics of the varieties. This lovely photo of Daubenton’s and a variegated variety of Daubenton’s was sent to me by the wonderful Stephen Barstow ( you must check out his blog and also his fantastic Around the world in 80 plants book which was published earlier this year). We have both varieties of the Daubenton’s kale growing in our vegetable garden. Daubenton’s makes fantastic crispy kale ( shred, toss in toasted sesame oil and sea salt, hot oven 5-10 mins) divine! It is one of our winter staples.

We also have been given three other types of perennial kales, as yet unidentified. One we have named ‘Egloskerry’ kale which given to us by a lovely gentleman at one of our talks. He rushed off to grab a great clump from his garden and we now have it growing. There is talk of an old Launceston perennial kale, maybe this is it, as Egloskerry is a short distance from Launceston. We were also given a perennial cabbage from Carol Wellwood who wrote a report for ‘Plants for a Future’ on Ken and Addie Fern’s 20-year experiment at Penpol. She tells us the plants originally came from there. We also have a thousand headed kale? pilfered from a friend’s allotment and are propagating plants from that. Our latest accession is a tree collard from Norway, currently a tiny cutting which has just taken root.

Two types of Daubenton's kale
Two types of Daubenton’s perennial kale, photo credit Stephen Barstow
Daubenton's kale, variegated variety
A young Daubenton variegated perennial kale ‘Panache’
Perennial Taunton Deane Kale
Taunton Deane perennial kale

“Thanks for everything, the info sheet was great. I planted the cuttings the day they arrived and have just multi sown the 9 star in seed trays. All very exciting, we’re now planning our perennial area.”

“You are right, perennial kale is fantastic! Thanks so much for the cuttings. I am a convert to having a corner of perpetual kale in the patch!”

“As the evening sun back lit the plants at Incredible Vegetables, I felt I was standing in one of the most important gardens of our time. Wildflowers working alongside an abundance of edimentals and perennial vegetables. A ‘food glade’ to rival the aesthetic of our greatest plant designers.”

– Jon Davies, garden designer, London Glades –

“I love your website and the work you’re doing. What you’re doing is exiting, useful, and one day will help to replace and enhance what human kind has damaged.With that our natural friends will return and we’ll be better for it.”

“Mandy, thank you. I am delighted with this plant – it is so strong and healthy and exceptionally well packaged – all done with loving care obviously. I shall look forward to having more plants from you.”

“Plants all arrived lovely and are growing well. I just wanted to say i was very impressed with the quality of the cuttings.. and its been a pleasure dealing with you. And I look forward to any purchases in the future.”

“The kale cuttings you sent survived the winter and are thriving. Thank you Mandy Barber you are the super hero of edibles, loving your work!!”

“I bought some Skirret seed’s off you last year. Well they grew and yesterday some got cooked and this message is just to say, they were delicious. Looking forward to a lot more next year. Thank you.”

“The Taunton Dean cuttings arrived a short while ago and never have I seen healthier looking cuttings! They are now firmly ensconced in some nice compost and are having a good drink. I even loved the packaging, which will be composted.”

“Hi I just wanted to let you know that I sowed half of my Caucasian spinach seeds and every single one grew, absolutely amazed, thanks for the seeds and keep up the good work.”

“Just to let you know that the lovely healthy looking plants arrived. Your plants are simply outstanding, every single tuber and plant are growing amazingly.”

“The plants arrived safely, I did not expect such magnificent specimens! I didn’t think I would be successful at stratification etc but I now have a whole bunch of Hablitzia seedlings sprouting after following your excellent advice.”

“Just to say, the Daubentons Kale is in the ground and looking well – thanks to the lovely damp compost encasing its roots…you do a good job at your end, I can tell by the way you package. Will be back for more of your wonderful perennials.”

“Thank you so much for all the vegetables, they really are incredible. I’m sure I’ve never before seen a healthier rootball than the one that arrived with our happy looking daubentons kale, and seeds and tubers are thriving thanks to all the useful information provided.”

“Thank you so much for sending such wonderful, healthy and very large plants. They are beautiful !! You packaged them so well and they arrived so quickly – I couldn’t get to the post office till the following day but they were absolutely fine. They’re now potted up and sitting in my ‘cold’ greenhouse while they adjust.”

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Mandy and Julien

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