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How to sow and grow dino kale

Dino kale - also known as cavolo nero or Tuscan kale - is super tasty, healthy, and beautiful. It grows tall like a palm tree, so it doesn't need as much space as other kale varieties.
Volwassen palmkool - of cavolo nero - in Makkelijke Moestuinbak
Mature dino kale

What is dino kale?

Dino kale is a leafy vegetable with a milder taste than other kales. The plants are biennials and are usually grown as a winter vegetable. But they do well in spring and summer too.

Maybe it's the blue-green textured leaves that give it its nickname. Or maybe it's because they look super prehistoric. But the most fun thing about dino kale is that you harvest the leaves from the bottom to the top. So it ends up looking like a palm tree.

Dino kale comes from Tuscany and is popular in Italy, especially in soups. It's called cavolo nero (black cabbage) because of the dark leaves.

When the winter's over, dino kale bursts into bloom: an early bee and butterfly magnet.

Vitamins and minerals in dino kale

Dino kale is super healthy. It contains lots of calcium - much more than milk - for strong bones and healthy teeth. Of all kale types, dino kale contains the most vitamin C: that's 1.5x as much as an orange.

More dino kale vitamins and minerals are vitamins A and K, iron, copper, phosphorus, folic acid, and potassium.

Its healthy antioxidants and loads of beta-carotene are anti-inflammatory, which helps fight cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

More about our dino kale seeds

Growing dino kale is super simple: sow, grow, and harvest. One plant fits in 1 square vegetable patch. Dino kale can handle cold weather and grows best in cooler temperatures: heat makes the leaves a little bitter.

Protect the plants from snails, caterpillars, and butterflies. They love it. But because dino kale plants are extremely resilient, they even survive insect attacks.
  • Species name: Nero di Toscane
  • Family: cruciferous
  • Number of plants per square patch: 1
  • Height: up to 80 cm
  • Sowing time: April to mid-July and September to mid-October
  • Sowing depth: 0.5 cm
  • Germination: 7 to 23°C in 5 - 12 days
  • Time to harvest: after 6 weeks
  • Sunlight: can grow in sun or shade
We sell dino kale seed bags separately in the shop, or you can also buy them as part of a seed pack:

What do you need to grow dino kale yourself?

You only need a few things to grow dino kale:
  • a 30x30 cm patch with airy, nutrient-rich soil mix
  • dino kale seeds
  • a place with at least 4 hours of sunlight a day
In other words: an MM-Mini, or a square patch in 1 of our garden boxes, filled with MM-Mix.

Growing your own dino kale is super easy with the MM-Mix. If you grow in low-quality (potting) soil, disappointment is pretty much guaranteed. So don't skimp on soil mix: go for the best.
Palmkool in Makkelijke Moestuin mini
Dino kale in the MM-Mini

How do you sow and grow dino kale?

Dino kale is included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next one.

So, you don't need to know how to grow dino kale in advance: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:

Level 1: Sowing dino kale

Choose a patch in the 2 back rows of your garden box. Make the soil mix loose and moist. Then sow the seeds like this:

  • poke 1 hole in the middle of the patch (1 cm deep max)
  • put 2 to 3 seeds in the hole
  • carefully cover it up with soil mix

Depending on the weather and the time of year, you'll start to see something come up in the next 5 to 12 days.

Level 2 and 3: Dino kale seedlings and thinning

If you see the first seedlings, you know you're on track.

The next level is thinning out. More than 1 seedling may come up in the spot you sowed. Choose the best seedling and remove the rest. It might sound harsh, but it's necessary. The remaining plant will have the room it needs to grow.
Only 1 dino kale seedling should be left standing

Level 4: Caring for your dino kale plant

After about 3 weeks your seedling becomes a small plant.

Protect it from snails: they love young dino kale. In butterfly season watch out for the enemy of all kale: the cabbage white. This cute white butterfly lays its eggs on (or under) the leaves. They hatch into hungry caterpillars.
Cabbage white caterpillar blends right in
Read more about cabbage whites and caterpillars on this page.

Dino kale is super strong. Even if it looks completely eaten up, it usually makes a comeback.

Just water regularly and remove weeds and yellowed leaves right away. 
Small dino kale

Level 5: Harvesting dino kale

About 6 to 8 weeks after sowing, you can start harvesting a few leaves.

How? Cut or break off the bottom leaves. The plant will start to look more and more like a palm tree. As long as you leave the top and center of the plant, new leaves will grow each time.
The top of the dino kale keeps growing
Your plant will grow all the season and get pretty big. So be careful it doesn't take up too much space.

Continue harvesting and regularly cut off some leaves. When the weather is dry, give it some water and remove dry leaves.

What do you use dino kale for?

You can eat dino kale leaves just like other kale varieties: toss them in a soup, stew, or stir fry.

Finely chop up young leaves for salads or green smoothies. Dino kale has a powerful flavor, so give it a taste to see how you like it.

Level 6: Keep harvesting all year round

Dino kale is frost-resistant and can keep for a long time. The leaves taste milder when frozen.

They pretty much stop producing new leaves in winter. But you can keep eating the ones that are still there.
Palmkool of cavolo nero kan heel goed tegen strenge vorst
Severe frost? No problem for dino kale

A party for you and the bees

In early spring, the dino kale starts to grow again. You can still harvest plenty - until the plant starts to flower. Then it's time to harvest the rest of the leaves and clear out your kale patch.

Or, you can leave the flowering plant for the bees, bumblebees, and butterflies. They'll be grateful for that early pollen.

If you're patient - or lazy 😉 - you can leave it in your garden box until the end of summer and harvest the seeds.
Spring party for bees

So, what's stopping you from growing dino kale?

It's maybe the easiest vegetable to grow yourself, you can enjoy it for a long time, and it tastes great.

Plus: with our materials and app it's almost impossible to fail 😉

Order your dino kale seeds here or get growing with a complete starter kit:

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