Once relegated to a decorative garnish status only, on an ordinary day, somebody somewhere had the brilliant idea to actually eat the kale garnish, discovering that:
“Hey, this stuff tastes pretty good!” and “This stuff really is packed full of vitamins and nutrients and micronutrients, too, I’ll warrant–I can just tell!”
Ever since that fateful day, kale has taken its proper place on many peoples’ plates as a valuable and delicious, nutritious and versatile green. It’s super-easy to grow, has a very long growing season and a cut-and-come-again habit, and can be used in so many ways–you can throw it into your green smoothies, bake it quickly into salty kale chips, stir-fry it with garlic and olive oil, throw it into soups and stews, and even shred it into salads.
Can you tell that I’m a bit excited about kale? And to top it all off, it’s just a beautiful addition to my garden. Take a look at my Kale Photo Gallery below.
I am growing four kinds of kale in my garden this summer.
Here’s “Raggedy Jack”:
This one is “Blue Curled Scotch”:
My “Lacinato” kale has recently been munched by the lovely Black Swallowtail butterfly (I’m not carrying a grudge) caterpillar, which I wrote about yesterday, so it hasn’t recovered enough to want photos yet, but here’s a picture of my “Redbor” kale:
This handsome plant just gets taller and taller as you clip off the bottom leaves.
(My dad calls this variety “Scotch Brite” kale. He thinks that’s funny. Well, it kind of is.) That’s a picture from last fall, since my Redbor kale this summer is still quite small.
And here’s a group shot, just because I think they’re so purty all together, and because you don’t mind one more photo, do you?
“C’mon, Kale: say ‘CHEESE’!”
So why on earth would any one person need so much kale, you might ask, and it’s good that you do, Gentle Reader. It’s good to have a curious mind, don’t you agree?
Two things happened last summer that spurred me on to grow more kale this year: I learned how to use kale in many wonderful recipes, and I sold quite a lot of kale at our local farmer’s market. Yes, I plan to become rich and famous selling kale by the bushel at our farmer’s market.
Okay, please stop laughing. So it could happen . . . .?
So that’s why I planted such an absurd amount of kale this year, and why I don’t have green beans or zucchini in my garden like I usually do (sob!) because my kale obsession is taking up so much room.
No matter. No regrets. No kale-related guilt!! We gardeners are an optimistic (not to mention, kale-filled) lot, and there’s always next year–right??–for the zucchini and the green beans. Also, if I mention this in my blog, perhaps a Gentle Reader or two who has so much zucchini in her garden that she is checking the car doors in the neighborhood for an unlocked door into which to “gift” somebody a pileof extrazucchini, will think of me, instead, and come and offer me a trade. Zucchini for kale. Works for me!
Now, without further ado, you don’t have to take my word alone for it . . . . I’ve included an excellent Ezine article by a writer whom I enjoy reading, Annette Welsford. She has written several best-selling gardening books, so I think she probably knows what she’s talking about. And she probably grows kale in her garden (I wonder if she grows four varieties, though?). She gets down to details on how to grow kale, and why it’s so doggone good for you, and I really like her suggestions for how to cook it, too, and I know you will, also, so I can get back out to my garden attend to pressing matters here at home.
Hey–I’m planting my hoophouse (and I’ll share that with you soon!) and I’ve nursed allfour kiddos here at home through the chicken pox over the past few weeks, give me a break, Gentle Readers! If I never see another puss-filled bump again, I won’t complain . . .
(For the record, that’s the very first time I’ve used the word “puss” in my blog.)
Enjoy the article and I’ll see you tomorrow with an easy and really delicious kale recipe for you to try!
Currently regarded as one of the most healthy vegetables on Planet Earth, kale is packed full of nutrients, has incredible health benefits, and when well prepared, has a delicious flavour. It is easy to grow, needs minimal care, and will reward you with an awesome harvest for much longer than most of the other veggies in the Brassica family.
There are many different types of kale, all of which are very easily sown from seed. And you don’t need a huge patch to get an ongoing supply of leaves for the table. (This from Amy: but a large patch is an awesome idea, don’tcha think, Annette?)
Kale requires reasonably rich soil; water; and a watchful eye to catch aphids and caterpillars before they eat your harvest before you do! While it prefers colder weather to grow in, it will thrive in most climates, though it does tend to become a bit tough and bitter when the weather is very hot. Kale is a biennial plant, though most people normally grow it as an annual, and harvest the leaves after about 60 days. But left in the ground, it will continue to grow and get quite big. After two years it will flower and complete its life cycle.
Health Benefits of Kale
This super-plant has an exceptionally good concentration of antioxidant vitamins; specifically vitamins A, C and K, as well as phytonutrients that contain sulphur. It is also full of lutein and zeaxanthin compounds that do wonders for eye health; and the fibre content binds bile acids, and in so doing helps to lower cholestrol levels in the blood and reduce risks of heart disease.
Vitamin K, which is needed for bone health and normal blood clotting, is one of the vitamins that have been found to help reduce risks associated with cancer. So this really is a veg to grow.
A minor warning is that because kale contains naturally occurring oxalates that may interfere with the absorption of calcium, it’s best not to mix calcium-rich foods with kale (and this includes dairy products).
Ways to Prepare Kale
Kale is quick and easy to prepare, and it can be added to salads or braised, just like spinach. Here are five quick and easy ideas for preparing and serving kale:
Slice red pepper, red onion and kale and serve with raisins or sultanas and garlic vinaigrette.
Braise chopped kale with apples; garnish with chopped pecan nuts or walnuts and splash with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Cook like spinach with a few garlic cloves and a tablespoon or two of olive oil (no water). Season with a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
Combine wholegrain pasta with chopped raw kale, pine nuts and feta cheese mixed together in a little bit of olive oil.
The piece de resistance: kale chips. Slice the leaves into chip-sized pieces and place in a baking tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 350 °F/ 180 °C. They should be light and crunchy, and very yummy.
Annette Welsford is the co-author, editor and publisher of international best selling books Companion Planting for Veggies,How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes and How to Grow Great Potatoes.
The books are available for online purchase at Growing Veggies blog. They’ve been purchased by many thousand gardeners in 88 countries, and have been featured on TV, radio and in leading gardening publications and newspapers in 4 continents.