Growing Kale--Queen of Garden Greens
When I was a child, I had never heard of kale, however, today I love this this green, and it is growing in popularity for obvious reasons. Kale is a truly amazing vegetable. It is recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor. kale is one of the most healthful vegetables on the planet. kale is a leafy green that is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. It is a member of the Brassica family. This family includes other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
At a Glance: Growing Kale
Plant in early spring or during the autumn months for best results.
Planting Depth: 1/2 inch deep
Planting distance: plants 2 inches apart
Germination: 5-10 days
Time until Harvest: 50-75 days
Autumn plantings produce sweeter kale than spring planted kale.
Kale's Nutritional Value is Unsurpassed
Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, Kale tops the list at providing significant health benefits, including lowering cancer risks and lowered the LDL cholesterol levels
Chopped kale is a dieter's dream food. One cup of chopped kale contains only 33 calories. Nutritionally it provides 9% of the daily requirement of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and 684% of vitamin K. Studies have shown that vitamin K prevents cancer. It also acts as an antioxidant and helps in bone health. Anyone on blood thinners such as warfarin should avoid eating kale because the vitamin K content also reduces the body's clotting ability. Kale also is a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. In addition to the vitamins and minerals, kale contains fiber that binds to bile acids which lower blood cholesterol levels thereby reducing risk of heart disease. Kale also contains oxalates which help the body absorb calcium. These health benefits of kale are increased when eaten cooked rather than raw.
Kale, A Great Choice for the Fall Garden
Although kale can be grown in the spring, fall is the best time to plant kale. During the cooler autumn months when fewer vegetables are growing in the garden, kale and other dark leafy greens are the garden's powerhouse. Autumn frosts sweeten the flavor of kale.
Kale does well when broadcasted around older cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or potatoes. It does well if it follows early bush beans or peas. Kale will continue to produce until heavy freeze.
Growing Kale in The Backyard
By planting in your own backyard garden, in just a few weeks, you will have access to kale at its peak of nutritional value. Plant kale about six weeks before the first frost date in the fall or as early in the spring as you are able to work the soil in the spring. Kale does well when planted using a method called "broadcasting". Prepare area in the garden bed in which you plan to plant kale by removing all weed residue to the compost pile and then working finished compost into top two inches of the soil. Rake the soil smooth. To broadcast the seed, simply toss seed evenly over the planting bed and then rake over seeds to cover with soil. Water entire area well every day until the kale has germinated.
Once germinated, thin kale to 2 inches apart in every direction. Thinned kale greens are good in salads. Mulch plants to control weeds.
Although kale is as susceptible to the same pests as other members of the cabbage family, kale usually isn't affected by insect pests when they are planted in the fall. If however, if kale does get insect damage, lightly dust with wood ashes or DE (diatomaceous earth).
The only problem I ever faced when growing kale was after killing frost left other garden vegetables are gone and the goats jumped the fence to savor the greens. Goats know good food when they see it!
Make Your Own Kale Chips
A delicious way to get the nutrition that kale provides is to turn them into snacking chips. Making kale chips is easy. Rinse kale in colander and place kale onto paper towels to dry. Pat dry with additional paper towels. Place dried kale in a large bowl and toss with two table spoons olive oil until all the kale is coated with the olive oil. Add about two teaspoons of sea salt and spread kale in a single layer onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until kale is crispy and turning brown.
For a slightly different taste, sprinkle chips with parmesian cheese or Italian seasoning.
How to Harvest, Use, and Cook Kale
Harvest the outer leaves of kale as needed. Young tender leaves can be eaten in salads. Older leaves are better if eaten cooked.
Sauté kale by heating two tablespoons of olive oil. Add two garlic cloves and cook until soft. Add one pound of kale and one half cup of water or vegetable stock. Cover and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Remove cover and cook until liquid has evaporated. Add two table spoons of wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
© 2014 Donna Brown
More by this Author
A healthy garden is not a bug-free garden, but is a garden where the bugs are in control. Here are some methods to manage garden pests naturally.
The benefits of diatomaceous earth in my home and garden include controlling bugs in my garden, home and yard. It protects my stored grains, pets and farm animals from infestation.
This is part one of a two part article on the advantages and disadvantages of home food preservation. In this article we explore food that is fresh, root cellared, and frozen.