Bradford, Ontario -- Kalettes are relatively new in Canada, the product of crossbreeding between Brussels sprouts and kale by Tozer Seeds in the United Kingdom. That’s where they were launched in 2010 as flower sprouts. By the time of the North American launch in 2014, they were rebranded as kalettes to ride the wave of popularity of kale.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds has an exclusive agreement with Tozer Seeds to market several varieties in North America. The Maine-based company offers bicolour varieties that mature in different seasons. Autumn Star is for early-season harvest, requiring a minimum of 110 days to mature.
According to Steve Bellavia, product technician at Johnny’s, “Kalettes grow best in cooler weather, especially when forming florets, but will perform well in areas with mild summer weather prior to floret formation. In areas with hot summers, the crop can be transplanted in late summer for successful fall, winter and spring harvest.” From seed to edible floret, he recommends the range is 15 to 19 weeks for maturation.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds markets Mistletoe for mid-season harvest and Snowdrop for late-season harvest. The ruffled, purple-green florets are ready to hand harvest from tall stalks when they are about two inches in diameter.
Cristina and John Hambly, Gwillimdale Farms are growing kalettes for the first time on their Bradford, Ontario farm. They grow very well beside cabbage, a relative of the same botanical family. Their growing popularity is attributed to the fact they taste milder than Brussels sprouts but are sweeter, more tender than kale.
PHOTO CUTLINE A: Shane Singh, second-generation farmer, grew Merlin beets for the first time this year. Since he sells to a number of local farmers’ markets under the Springh Farms name, he’s always looking for something distinctive. This smooth-skinned variety fits the bill for bunching. It grows uniformly to two to two-and-a-half inches in diameter with a deep red interior colour. It's also a sweet-tasting variety with a high brix content of 14 to 15 per cent. Just as importantly, Singh says the dark green tops grow erectly to 15 to 17 inches. The Stokes Seeds catalogue says this variety matures in 55 days.
PHOTO CUTLINE B: Kalette, a hybrid of Brussels sprouts and kale, is a new vegetable grown at Gwillimdale Farms, Bradford, Ontario. Cristina Hambly inspects the crop in mid-October. Photos by Glenn Lowson.