Thursday, 27 January 2011

Surface tension

I love photographing Cavolo Nero so much I can't stop! This time the plants were covered in shiny raindrops, almost frozen in the barely-above-zero temperature.




The surface tension of  the water was holding the droplets together on the leaves like little blobs of mercury.









Looking at these photos, you can perhaps see why many people treat Cavolo Nero as primarily an ornamental plant. It works very well in the "Potager" style garden, with edible plants growing in amongst the purely decorative ones. Incidentally, have you ever left an endive (Chicorée frisée) to run to seed? They grow about 4 or 5 feet tall, and produce masses of lovely powder-blue flowers. Just the sort of thing for the potager.


Cavolo Nero is very hardy and will withstand several degrees of frost

On a practical gardening level, my remaining Cavolo Nero is reaching that point where a decision needs to be made. I could cut it and use it right now, but if I leave it a bit longer, all the big leaves will drop off, and lots of tiny (succulent) shoots will appear at all the points where there used to be leaves. In other words, it will perform a bit like sprouting broccoli. The tiny shoots will go on to produce little yellow flowers, if you let them. I won't! Mine will probably be eaten in a creamy white sauce, along with some pasta...

21 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos. And a beautiful-sounding name: Cavolo Nero!
    But then I am Italian, so I would think so;-))

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  2. Wonderful pictures, Mark. A very handsome vegetable indeed. We have kale seeds to grow this year for the first time, and I am looking forward to them! Sara

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  3. Yum! I'm going to see if I can get this one from Seeds from Italy. I'm sure there are other catalogs that carry it, but their seed packets are so generous.

    Thanks for the reminder about the pretty endive flowers, too!

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  4. Hi Eliza; Seeds of Italy certainly do stock Cavolo Nero: http://www.seedsofitaly.com/product/159
    I endorse what you say about the generous quantities of seed in their packs. About 100 times more than you get from most places. I notice you can get a 250g pack of CN seeds from them for £20. I bet that has a LOT of seeds in it!

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  5. Great shot. Beautiful and tasty.

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  6. I'm not familiar with this plant but the photos make it look slightly creepy.

    Lucy

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  7. Yes, Esther, I understand what you mean. Almost like the skin of a crocodile, maybe???

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  8. Years and years ago I worked with a french plastics engineer who would go on and on (I did say he was French!) about the properties of different plastics and their ability to attract or repel water. I'd say your cavolo nero is doing a pretty good job of repelling there... what's the surface of the leaves like up really close Mark? Rubbery?

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  9. Great photos Mark, I've been planning to grow this for a while now.

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  10. I've put some more close-up pics of the Cavolo Nero onto my Favourite Photos page...

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  11. I forgot that I needed to get some of these seeds! Glad you reminded me.

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  12. Great photo! Those little drops look amazing. I have to get me a macro lens

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  13. Hi Ali; re the texture of the leaves - until you pick them they are actually quite firm and the surface is a bit waxy (hence their moisture-repellent nature). When you cook them (as long as you remove the tough central ribs) the leaves go nice and soft - a pleasanter texture than the traditional curly kale I think.

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  14. Beautiful pictures! I think that I would let it flower and go to seed. I have never seen a Cavolo nero flower.

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  15. Hi vrtlarica ana; the flowers of Cavolo Nero are just like most brassica flowers - individually insignificant, but impressive "en masse". They are tiny yellow ones.

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  16. Hi Fer; The close-ups were enlargements done using the Epson Photo Editor suite that came with my printer. The second picture, for instance, is a part of the first one, but enlarged and cropped.

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  17. Excellent photos Mark, the close-ups show the quality of both your camera and your shots, I'm impressed!

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  18. Our weekly veg. box arrived. This variety in it. Looks creepy in real life too! Something about the peculiar shade of green and the deep and close uppey-downy bits.

    Esther

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  19. Close-up photos are something I haven't got to grips with using my new camera. Incredibly my older one takes them better. I love raindrops on alchemilla!

    I think cavolo nero translates as black cabbage - not as evocative a name is it?

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  20. I just think brassicas are beautiful...in general and the jewels that water creates on their leaves is a bonus.

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  21. I'm not familiar with this plant but your pictures are awesome! I especially love the first picture. I stared at it for a long time!

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