The Modern Victory Garden


Tree Kale/Collards

Posted on October 7, 2010 at 1:19 AM

I have many readers of this blog whom I have had the good fortune to get to know better through regular blog comments, email correspondence, and even an occasional real life garden visit.   One such reader is Cherie.   She contacted me by email quite a while ago and ever since I have enjoyed corresponding with her about our gardens and related challenges.   Recently Cherie wrote that she had noted I mentioned how much my chickens really love kale.   She suggested that to keep up with their demand perhaps I might want to consider growing some tree collards.   Apparently she had obtained cuttings of this perennial non-flowering cole crop from John Jeavon’s gardens in 1990 and has been growing them ever since.   They grow very tall (over 8 feet tall in fact) and are apparently just as tasty and sweet in winter as more traditional kale and collard crops – but produce year round and can grow for several years before a new propagation is needed from cuttings.   She was kind enough to offer to send me some cuttings from her plant if I was interested – which of course I totally was!   Perennial vegetable plants are a bit of a rarity and finding one that is also a cole crop, which grows very well in my climate, is a home run.   Here’s a video clip that talks about this interesting plant and it’s usefulness in a food production garden.                


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Tonight when I got home from work I found the package had arrived in the mail for me with several tree collard cuttings – as well as a package of some hull less barley seed to trial in my garden.   It was like Christmas in October!   Not only did I get the cuttings and barley seed, but she also sent a nice fact sheet on the plant describing how to grow it from cuttings and how to harvest and use it.                                 




The cuttings survived their U.S.Postal Service journey in good shape and I did not want to let them sit any longer than necessary before getting them attended to.   These plants have several obstacles to get through before they can become mature specimens in my garden – not the least of which is just surviving this journey and growing out roots from the cutting.           




Before I got started, I gathered up the soil mix, pots, cutting board, and sharp knife that I needed to do the planting up process.   The first step is to then cut about an inch from the bottom to reestablish a clean cut that will take up water more readily.   That is easier said than done, as the stems are incredibly woody and tough!             




This was then placed cut side down into a container of very moist potting soil mix ensuring several leaf nodes were below the soil level (this is where the roots will form from) as well as several leaf nodes above the soil level (this is where the new leaf growth will form).           




They don’t look like much at the moment, but they hold a lot of potential.     




If I manage to grow these out and don’t kill them along the way, I will post some updates periodically about them.   In the meantime, I just want to say a big thank you to Cherie for her thoughtfulness in sending these to me.   Hopefully I will find an opportunity to pay the kindness forward to someone else in the future.




Categories: Vegetables, Just For Fun