I’d never thought of kale as a spring treat. Kale is the Scottish chieftain lifting his sword and shield to defy winter’s blast, holding fast to his brave greenery. But attempts to grow kale in the winter greenhouse had failed. It didn’t start to regrow, as spinach would, in the lengthening days of February. It died.
I was using the wrong kales — not wrong for fall, when the cold turns the leaves deliciously sweet, but wrong for overwintering. As with most gardening adventures, you often have to try a number of varieties to find ones that do just what you want them to do. Most kales that people plant, including the increasingly popular Tuscan varieties such as Lacinato, are of the species Brassica oleracea. But my husband and I decided to fool around with some of the Russian/Siberian kales. These are of the species Brassica napus, which, if the truth be told, makes them closer to turnips and rutabagas, though with kale-like leaves.