Kale – Nero di Toscana



Kale – Nero di Toscana is the kale that chefs rave about.  It has dark green lanceolate shaped leaves.  It also looks a bit like a palm tree and can be harvested throughout the winter.


April to mid June.

Sow one seed per module about 1.5cm deep and about 4 weeks later plant out.


Between rows: 50cm

Between plants in the row: 50cm

Approx. seed count: 50

Growing kale:

Kale – Nero di Toscana

Latin name:  

Brassica oleracea Acephala Group


Brassicaceae (also known as Cruciferae)

Related to: 

Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, radish, turnip and swede.

Botanical classification: 

Brassica derives from the Celtic bresic, the name for cabbage.

Oleracea means ‘as a herb’ – the wild cabbage.  Acephala means ‘without a head’.


Kale – Nero di Toscana is one of the hardiest winter vegetables and one of the easiest to grow.  In addition, it seems to be much less plagued by all the brassica pests and diseases.  I just wish we could like it more.  Some varieties of kale, such as Redbor F1 and Nero di Toscana, are so attractive looking that they would deserve a prime place in your flower garden.


The kale is the most similar plant to the wild ancestor of so many cultivated brassicas – Brassica oleracea – which still grows wild on the western coasts of Europe.

It was already grown in Roman times.

Soil and site:

Kale – Nero di Toscana prefers a fertile, deep soil with high moisture retention. Therefore, the soil should be free draining and also kale will tolerate poorer soils than most brassicas.  The ideal pH is 6.5-7.0.


Not only can kale be raised in a seed bed as bare root transplants but also it can be raised in modular trays.  However, if raised in modular trays it is essential that they are planted out before they become pot bound.  As a matter of fact, I find that modular grown plants establish much easier.  I sow one seed per cell 2cm deep.

Sow early varieties in mid April until mid June.


Between plants: 50cm

Between rows: 50cm


It is absolutely essential to keep kale in the brassica section of your rotation because this will prevent a build up of the numerous brassica pests and diseases.

Plant care:

Apart from keeping the soil well hoed and weeded you should remove any discoloured lower leaves from the plant as this will improve the air-flow through the crop and therefore minimise pests (aphids) and diseases (moulds).

Harvesting and storing:

Kale is such a forgiving plant.  Harvest regularly from the bottom up.

Potential problems:

Kale – Nero di Toscana is the easiest and healthiest brassica you can grow.  It will suffer from all the common brassica problems but generally to a much lesser extent.

How much to grow?

If you eat kale regularly three plants are sufficient, however, if you want them for the occasional meal 1 or 2 plants will do.

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