Grow a 7-foot-tall Vegetable

comments (5) May 17th, 2011

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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This ornamental vegetable has edible leaves and an extremely sturdy stem.Click To Enlarge

This ornamental vegetable has edible leaves and an extremely sturdy stem.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

If you’d like to grow something in your garden that’s sure to be a conversation piece, you might want to give Brassica oleracea longata a try. This vegetable is sure to pique the curiosity of neighbors once it starts growing its stout stem topped with edible, cabbage-like leaves.

Walking Stick kale, also known as Jersey Kale, looks a little like a palm tree and has stems that can dry and harden to use as walking sticks.

I received a packet of seeds as a gift from a visitor to Lexington, Va., where a walking stick made from one of these plants is on display at Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s home. Apparently he purchased the walking stick during a trip to Europe in the 1850s.

Walking stick kale has been around a long time. It’s been cultivated on the Isle of Jersey for hundreds of years where the sturdy stems are used as beams to support thatched roofs and the leaves serve as feed for local livestock.

I started this novelty vegetable indoors earlier this year and the weather is almost warm enough for me to transplant it into the garden. I’ll need to make sure I give it plenty of room to grow. I’ve read plants can grow 3-4 feet wide and up to 7-feet tall. I’ll also need to make sure I have a sturdy 2 x 2 board to use as a support and to train it so the stem grows straight.

I’m not sure if I can get the walking stick to grow 7 feet tall in my Zone 5 garden or if it will overwinter for a second year, when it's supposed to grow even taller. But I’m going to give it a try and will report back on its progress later this season.

Have you ever grown walking stick kale? If so, please post your growing tips and photos here.


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posted in: kale, ornamental vegetable, novelty plants

Comments (5)

Agri_Dagh writes: Amazon sells viable seeds at a "good price".
Posted: 9:02 am on August 20th
epeavey1 writes: I want to find some seeds for the Walking Stick kale. I live in north east Georgia any suggestions on where to find it? My e-mail address is [email protected] Thank you Ellen
Posted: 2:18 pm on December 12th
tesstie writes: They are cold season crop,right?
Posted: 8:58 am on June 25th
WesternGardener writes: Thanks, Chris. I checked the info on the seed packet and it looks like these came from Thompson & Morgan Seedsman in Jackson, NJ, (800-274-7333).

Posted: 12:22 pm on May 21st
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: Jodi ~ I've been trying for years to find these to grow! I could only find them in the UK. Where did you find the seeds?
Posted: 2:45 pm on May 17th
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