Growing black cabbage: sowing, care and harvest time

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Growing black cabbage in your own garden: We present suitable varieties and give tips and tricks from sowing, through care & fertilization, to harvest.

Growing black cabbage: sowing, care and harvest time

Black cabbage is grown mainly in Tuscany. [Photo: Ruud Morijn Photographer /]

The black cabbage is a special type of cabbage and is often referred to as palm kale ( Brassica oleracea var. Palmifolia ). There are a wide variety of terms in English, but all of them refer to its origin, such as Tuscan cabbage, Lacinato kale, Tuscan kale and Italian kale. Even under the Romans, this healthy type of cabbage was an essential part of the menu. Today the main growing areas of palm kale are in Tuscany. Its taste is similar to that of kale, but the black cabbage is significantly sweeter and the cabbage leaves are a lot more tender. In the modern kitchen, the palm kale is now one of the so-called “superfoods” because it is packed with all kinds of vitamins and fiber. The palm kale grows excellently in German gardens and is particularly popular because of its clear appearance and robustness. The handsome, large palm-like dark green to black-green leaves are particularly noticeable here.

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Growing black cabbage: how to do it step by step

You can choose from different types of black cabbage, a few popular ones in a nutshell:

Well-known varieties from Italy for horticulture:

  • Tuscany Nero di Toscana: vase-shaped and very compact variety; light green leaf stalks.
  • Palmizio Senza Testa: well suited for salads, young cabbage leaves can be obtained for salads after about 40 days.

Recommendation for cultivation on the balcony or terrace:

  • Black Magic: very good yield; excellent taste; densely growing, large leaves.
  1. You can start sowing in mid-March, a sunny window sill is recommended here.
  2. A loose soil is preferred by black cabbage and sufficient nutrients should also be included. The Plantura organic tomato & vegetable soil is ideal for your black cabbage plants, for example; if necessary, you can repair the planting hole with compost and horse manure.
  3. As soon as the ice saints are over in May, you can sow the seeds directly. A hole depth of about 1-1.5 cm is sufficient here. The distance between the cabbage plants should be about 30 cm.
  4. Weeds should be removed from the bed on a regular basis.
  5. You should pay attention to sufficient irrigation, especially during hot summer days.
  6. For most varieties, the first palm-shaped leaves can be harvested after about the first 70 days. Special varieties such as Palmizio Senza Testa produce particularly tender and young cabbage leaves that can be harvested for salads after around 40 days.
  7. When harvesting, make sure to remove the crisp leaves from bottom to top and only as much as you need at the moment.

Important tips:

  • Lovers sow the palm kale quite late and wait until the first frost to harvest. This is said to give the leaves an even better aroma.
  • On the balcony in a suitable pot, the black cabbage can grow for 2 years; however, it has to be overwintered. But you can still harvest what the cabbage plant produces on the first frosty days, because this type of cabbage can withstand slight minus temperatures without any problems

Special thanks to the photographer: Patti Z.

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