Heat-hardy Portuguese Kale

Give Portuguese kale a chance and you might just find a tasty new variety that thrives in hot weather

Credit: Carol Pope

The large and vibrant green leaves of Portuguese kale are a beautiful sight

Portuguese kale should be embraced by those looking to add another delicious variety to their garden

I’ve heard the good and bad about Portuguese kale from the many kale aficionados I’ve come to know since I developed my own addiction to this incredibly healthy and versatile green.

I’ve been told that the flavour isn’t up to snuff compared to other kale varieties – like ‘Red Russian,’ or ‘Black Tuscan’ – and I had to ask, could this be true?

Naturally, this was a good reason to grow some myself using seeds from Renee’s Garden, and the answer from my own kale-inclined point of view, is that Portuguese kale – tender, sweet and mild – is simply another very welcome way to enjoy this extraordinary superfood.

Perky Portuguese Kale

And it’s also extremely rewarding to grow in the garden. Starting 12 different types of kale this past spring, I found that the Portuguese kale sprinted to the forefront of the growth race, expanding at twice the speed of the other (also vigorous) kales.

Neatly planted in a row, starter plants grew in a fast and furious manner, forming a beautiful and distinctive line of large soft-green leaves ribbed with white.  Along with the green of the leaves, these ribs are crunchy, delicious and sweet-tasting in salads, stirfries or a lovely soup, and you can even use the massive leaves as wrap shells, or simply nibble on them in the garden as I tend to do.

Heat-loving Kale

And a bonus, particularly in light of the recent waves of heat sweeping around BC, is that Portuguese kale – and, yes, it originates from Portugal – is more heat tolerant than other kales.

While much of my kale breezes through summer without a problem, particularly if we shield it from the worst of the sun with a bit of shade cloth, kale is not a big lover of high heat, so having a more forbearing type in our garden mix is a good measure, I think, in ensuring that we don’t have too many of the edible greens bolting through the summer.

If you don’t have this lovely kale in your garden, start some now to enjoy it fall through to next spring.