Maybe we should just call this week “kale week” here on the blog. Today we’re going to talk about growing kale. Mine from the fall is still growing. In fact, it’s about 3 feet tall and even though we’ve had some days well into the 90’s it hasn’t gone bitter.
As I’ve said before, some in my family are not enjoying this quite as much as others. We’ve had several celebrations over having zucchini instead of kale or Swiss chard. I’m sure by September the zucchini celebrations will end.
Kale and other greens have gotten a bad wrap lately. I’ve read several articles by people who say that they are full of “anti-nutrients” and should be avoided. Now, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, I’m just a mom. But it seems to me that that if greens were so bad for you that most of the cultures of the world wouldn’t be eating them every day. You know, the cultures without access to gourmet food or fast food. The cultures that grow their own food and then eat it.
In the All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook, Cam Mather states the following…
Kale is a brassica (that doesn’t start with “B” or “C”) and contains just about every vitamin known to man. It’s got phytonutrients to prevent just about every cancer out there, and studies show that when you chew cruciferous vegetables like kale it tells the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, basically convincing them it’s better to just do themselves in rather than hang out in Kaletown. Kale has vitamin A and beta-carotene to help your eyes, lots of vitamin C to protect against arthritis, manganese for a healthy nervous system, calcium for healthy bones…just let me know when you want me to stop.
If after doing some research you have decided that kale is not for you, then you probably shouldn’t grow it.
- Kale really prefers cooler weather but it’s been in the upper 80’s and low 90’s here and it hasn’t turned bitter or bolted.
- In warmer climates you can grow chard through the winter. In colder climates you can mulch it really good and it will be some of the first things up in the spring.
- To plant, plant them about 1/2″ deep and about 12″ apart. They can get really big.
Pests and Problems
- There are very few pests or problems with kale. As you can see in my photo above some of the leaves have small holes in them, we just cut them out and eat the rest. The ones that have lots of holes go to the hens. I’m not sure what makes the holes, maybe leaf miners or grass hoppers. It’s not been enough of a problem for me to worry about it.
- Because kale is a brassica it can also get cabbage loopers and cabbage worms.
- In my kale chips post one of the commenter said that snails could be a problem
Harvest and Storage
- Harvest just the outer leaves and let the rest continue to grow. Before you know it, you too can have 3′ tall kale
- For storage you can chop it up and freeze it or dehydrate it. But I think that since it’s such a great producer there’s no need to store it.
- Kale can be used in any recipe that calls for spinach. It’s sturdier than spinach and is great is soups.
- We use it in chicken Alfredo, scrambled eggs, soups, lasagna, I’ve even put it in Spanish rice, and of course, just sauteed.
Do you grow kale? Any other advice?
You can find information about other fruits and veggies by searching clicking on the In The Garden tab up top or in The Gardening Notebook.
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