Leafy vegetable takes center stage as fall draws to a close.

This kale does get top-heavy and I’ve staked mine with bamboo canes. Due to my haphazard staking job, the plants have fallen flat to the ground a couple times. But I’ve managed to right them in stages, doing it right after a rain when the soil is moist.

One of the most impressive crops in my fall vegetable garden is a curly purple kale called ‘Redbor’. I only have three plants, but they’re located right in the middle of the garden and stand almost 4 feet tall. Though I planted them in late May, they didn’t begin to assert themselves until September. As the tomatoes, peppers, beans and other warm-season crops made their way to the compost pile, these kale plants took center stage and in the cooler weather they really started to put on growth.

I will definitely plant more Redbor kale next year. Not because I like eating it (I find this variety a bit tough and prefer the narrow-leaved kale called Cavlo Nero). The reason I love this plant is because it’s so beautiful at this time of year. In the summer when the gardens are filled with flowers, this plant wouldn’t get a second look. But now you can see it from across the yard, silhouetted against the sky, or against the autumn foliage on the hillside. The leaves are dark purple—almost black—and they’re highlighted with pink and lavender and blue. I’ve been using the leaves in arrangements for months now.

Autumn arrangement with kale

I used kale leaves to anchor this autumn arrangement and provide a foil for the bold reds and oranges of Asiatic lilies, winterberry and sedum.
-Kathy LaLiberte
Director of Gardening, Gardener’s Supply