We all know that kale is a healthy food and we all know we should eat more of it. But the taste is not usually sufficiently tempting and kale plants don’t look especially beautiful when growing in the garden.
Well, things are changing.
Over ten years ago Rick Grazzini of Garden Genetics in Pennsylvania began work on developing a kale with the colouring of an ornamental and the taste of an edible. He worked to combine very short internodes, creating a very leafy, but compact, plant that reaches 40-50cm high and 40-60cm wide with a long harvest period, and vibrant colouring.
This was achieved in addition to the leaves maintaining their succulent sweet flavour when raw or cooked. He also wanted a plant that was high in antioxidants and anthocyanins making this, eye catching kale completely unique.
The result is an F1 hybrid kale called ‘Rainbow Candy Crush’ but the marketing people have got a little carried away, describing this new kale as "the world’s first edible ornamental". So I checked in with Rob Smith, Product Development Manager for Suttons, who are introducing this new kale
, to find out how it differs from existing ornamental kales.
“The main difference compared to ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Emerald Ice’” he told me,“ is the amount of leaf due to the shorter internodes, resulting in more edible leaves on a smaller, squatter plant. Even compared to ‘Candy Floss’, there are more tightly packed leaves on ‘Rainbow Candy Crush’ and the colouring also makes it stand out as the pink/purple colouration is more vibrant than that of other kales.
“However, as the leaves are very thin and less fibrous than most other kales, it means it works really well when shredded into salads and also made a delicious slaw we served with a BBQ. The leaves also go a dark purple colour when boiled or steamed, which most people seemed to like. I also believe tests prove it higher in antioxidants and richer in anthocyanins than other kales.
“‘Rainbow Candy Crush’ is also more of a late summer/autumn cropper compared to the other kales, lasting until December in my garden in Sheffield.”
You can order plants of ‘Rainbow Candy Crush’ kale from Suttons
and also from Thompson & Morgan
. Seed is not yet available.
**Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and do not constitute an official endorsement by the RHS