Kale is one of the those vegetables that we all know is healthy but quite often don’t like it very much so it is often relegated to smoothies, crispy seaweed or crisps. I’m not that keen myself except for Cavolo Nero but because of the white fly on the site find it frustrating to try and wash the little suckers out the pockets on the underside of the leaf. Therefore I’m always on the look out for something that might be a little easier but be as palatable cooked.
Peacock tails are aptly named forming large open bushes that fan out in to beautiful feathery bushes either with white or purple ribs. Seeds are a bit hard to find. I bought mine from Robinsons Mammoth Onion seeds after seeing them at Gardeners World Live.
Peacock Tail has a very similar taste to all kales. I’ve never really found an especially good or poor tasting one. It does have one benefit over some other kales though that the leafy end is tender and the tough stalks can be removed which means pleasanter eating. As it is relatively smooth as well it is easy to clean so any insects that have taken up residence can be washed off.
Plant health and yield
Plants are extremely attractive and healthy. They are not immune to white fly but don’t seem to be dented by it and the bugs are easy to wash off. A couple of plants will keep a family well supplied with kale for the year. Like all brassicas you will need to protect from cabbage white butterflies and birds with netting. Sow in March and you can be picking in May. Later sowings will overwinter well as it is frost hardy. Protecting it from the worst of the weather conditions with fleece will keep it in better condition and start it growing again earlier in the year.
You can start kale in pots in a green house or outdoors. Sow in Spring from March all the way up to early summer, 1cm deep. In pots sow 1-3 seeds in a 3 inch pot. Outdoors sow thinly in rows 15cm apart. Thin seedlings to one every 7cm or 1 per 3 inch pot. Water lightly until it is time to plant out.
Brassicas can fall victim to cabbage white butterfly or birds. Kale seems a bit less preferred but if you are netting other brassicas then it might be better to shelter your kale too.
In April/May once the plants have several true leaves plant out in final positions. Kale are not too fussy about where they go but they do need a firm soil so you might struggle with a very sandy soil. They will appreciate a feed of blood fish and bone or another organic fertiliser in the spring and a mulch to conserve water.
Pot grown plants will need a period of a week being moved outdoors during the day and brought inside at night to harden off. Plant 40 – 50 cm apart, firming in well to stop the plants rocking in high winds water in well and make sure that they are well watered until established. After this water only if it has been dry for several weeks.